Pixar is one of the most successful movie studios there is, and for good reason. They have a track record of fantastic films that is simply unequaled. Toy Story 3, their latest film, was released last week, but today we'll look at the video game based on last year's Pixar offering: Up. It's a very good game, with some excellent co-op throughout, and is certainly worth playing for fans of the film, young and old.
We saw Up for the first time after its home video release, and after only a few minutes, we were totally hooked on the characters. The first fifteen minutes of Up are full of heartfelt emotion and raw humanity, the likes of which I've seen in few films, much less those aimed at younger audiences. This focus on character comes through in the game, as well. The exotic locales and spirit of adventure in the movie are perfect for a video game translation, and though the game lacks the heart of the film, it's still great, primarily due to the charm of the characters.
Carl, a grumpy, grieving widower, and Russell, a chubby young Wilderness Explorer looking for merit badges, are the primary characters. The two are vastly different throughout play. Carl shuffles along rather slowly, but uses his walker to great effect, both as a grappling hook and as a weapon. Russell is a bit quicker, and has a few survival items that are very useful, including a knife to cut barriers and a rope. Dug the talking dog appears in a few levels, too, and can help in the quest by swimming, pulling bone levers, and fitting through small spaces.
It is in the gameplay interactions between the characters that the co-op really shines through. There are areas that one character alone can get to, which requires true coordination. One example, repeated quite often, is Carl's ability to latch onto vines with his walker. After pulling his aged frame up, Carl reaches the walker down for Russell to grab hold, then pulls him up. Russell pays back the favor by navigating narrow ledges, and hoisting Carl up with his rope. Dug even gets in on the action by carrying Carl across rivers atop his back. Each level brings new challenges that can only be overcome by using each characters attributes effectively. It's well designed and really evokes the movie's theme of the growing partnership between Carl and Russell.