Napoleon Dynamite: The Game

boyward - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Playstation Portable (PSP)
Produced by: Crave
Price Range: $11-20
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Children (Older)
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 & up)

     Reviewed By: Phil Rownd (boyward)
     STAFF REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Genre: Other Mini-game Compilation
Christian Rating: 4 of 5 (good)
Gameplay: 1 of 5 (awful)
Violence: 4 of 5 (barely present)
Adult Content: 4 of 5 (barely present)


Napoleon Dynamite: The Game.  Illustration copyrighted.

Napoleon Dynamite: The Game is not the worst game ever, but very few of his “30 wacky minigames” are even close to what he’d call “flippin’ sweet”. This is basically a collection of Flash-style games, like what you’d play for free on a promo site. Most of the games are amusing for about 30 seconds and then you are forced to play for another 10 minutes before you can save your progress. The Napoleon Dynamite movie is pretty much the greatest movie ever made and I’ve watched it like five times. The game does a terrific job capturing the spirit of that off-beat comedy and it made me chuckle a few times. But broken controls, unnecessary repetition, and game-crashing glitches make this game about as enjoyable as Uncle Rico’s time machine.

Game developer Crave advertises their game as follows: “Step into the moon boots of Napoleon Dynamite and relive some flippin’ sweet movie moments like dancing to Z-Kwon, throwing the pigskin a quarter mile with Uncle Rico, smashing pinatas with Pedro and many more! Napoleon Dynamite brings 20 mini games for the DS and 30 for the PSP that really need you to use all your good skills to pass… even your bow-hunting skills for when you’re hunting Wolverines with your uncle in Alaska! So hurry up and play already and all your wildest dreams will come true. Gosh!”

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Here’s the full list of mini-games for the PSP version of the game:
1. Feed Tina
2. Dancing
3. Time Machine
4. Computer Hacking
5. Football Toss
6. Action Drag
7. Cake Building
8. Tetherball
9. Happy Hands
10. Pinata Smash
11. Dodgeball
12. BMX Bike Jumping
13. Singing Contest
14. Rex Kwon Do Fight
15. Bumper Bowling
16. Kip Drag
17. Chicken Egg Collection
18. Trampoline Jumping
19. Cow Riding
20. Water Balloon Toss
21. Bow Hunting
22. Low Riding
23. Talent Show Dance
24. Pegasus Flight
25. Save Nessie
26. Wolverine Hunting
27. Ninja Fight
28. Napoleon Dynamite

Notice there are 28 mini-games, not the advertised “30”. I think they say there are “30” because they make you repeat the “Dancing” mini-game more than once. Too bad the “Dancing” game is broken by imprecise and finger-twisting controls.

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My favorite mini-games include “Pegasus Flight”, a side-scrolling shooter in which Napoleon rides his hand-drawn Pegasus against armies of flying cows, dolphins, fighter jets, and aliens. I also enjoyed the “Action Drag”, in which Napoleon drags his plastic action hero behind the school bus and tries to destroy it while avoiding ravenous dogs, cats, and manholes. These absurd moments are amusing to me, in the same way that a half-way funny joke might make you laugh the first time you hear it. But the games are repeated over 3-4 rounds, and they quickly become tedious. Add to the repetition the fact that the controls for most of the mini-games are both complicated and sluggish, and you will find yourself wondering, “When is this ever going to end?” After finally getting lucky enough to survive 15 minutes and three rounds of “Dodgeball”, the game crashed before I could save my progress. At that point I decided I’d suffered enough and took this UMD out of my PSP for good.

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VIOLENCE
Napoleon Dynamite: The Game is rated E10+ for “Cartoon Violence.” “Cartoon” is right. The developers chose to use an art style that might look like one of Napoleon’s cartoon drawing: a cheap and sloppy mess of cut and paste. It’s a good look for the game that renders all of the slapstick violence harmless. Characters get hit in the head with pinatas and balls, and Napoleon gets smacked by spit wads from Tina the llama. There is some shooting in the “Pegasus Flight” level, as well as some martial arts action in the “Rex Kwon Do Fight”.

LANGUAGE
All of the spoken dialogue is ripped straight from the movie, so we frequently hear catchphrases that include words like “gosh,” “jeez,” “freakin’,” “crap” and “heck.”

While all the dialogue comes from the movie, it’s worth noting that the game soundtrack does not. What’s here is all original, and I suppose it’s decent enough, but it would have been better if the developers had been able to get John Swihart’s quirky musical score to go with the voices.

Buried beneath the bad controls, repetition, and glitches is a terrific foundation for a Napoleon Dynamite video game. The developers obviously liked the movie as much as do, and they managed to put some laughs in here, but ultimately we’re all better off leaving the game on the shelf and watching the movie instead. It’s an election year, and perhaps if we vote for Pedro our wildest dreams for a good Napoleon game will come true, but this isn’t that game.
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Year of Release — 2007

[tags] 1 stars, Other, Playstation Portable (PSP), E10+, Crave [/tags]




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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