Version tested: PlayStation 2
The first boss level in The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer can be completed at the first attempt in under sixty seconds.
The reason we're beginning this review with that sentence is because it tells you all you need to know about the game in terms of who it's aimed at, and what kind of challenge it offers. This is not a game for adults, nor indeed is it a game for older children who know their way around a Dual Shock.
But if you're looking to buy a present for a small child who likes the Incredibles, and who wants nothing more challenging than a game that lets them bash buttons, pull switches, cause explosions and tough up wave after wave of robotic baddies without dying too often, this is it.
The saga continues
RotU picks up where the Incredibles film (and the previous game) left off: playing as Mr Incredible and ice man Frozone, you're tasked with saving the world from dastardly megalomaniac The Underminer. You can switch control between the two characters at any time, which you'll need to do quite a lot as they have different abilities.
Mr Incredible, as you might expect, provides the muscle - he's most effective at pounding into groups of enemies, and can also pick up and lob objects to defeat far away baddies or activate switches.
Frozone's main talent is his ability to shoot streams of ice and freeze stuff - including enemies, which Mr Incredible can then use as projectile weapons. Both characters have a few special moves and can do speed bursts, and you can upgrade their abilities at a very basic level as the game progresses - making punches more powerful, increasing their health and so on.
Gameplay revolves around blasting through groups of evil robots as you make your way through a series of industrial-looking locations. There's also a bit of switch pulling and the like - Frozone has to build a series of ice bridges at one point, for example - and the odd boss to deal with.
It's all very linear and straightforward, and becomes even less challenging if you've got a friend on hand. The game's co-op mode allows another player to jump in (and jump out) at any point, thereby negating the need to switch characters - although you can swap with your partner at any time if you get bored.
The co-op mechanism works well - there's plenty of scope for teamwork as Frozone, for example, freezes a stream of water to create a block of ice for Mr Incredible to throw, while Mr I protects him from approaching baddies. If one character dies, the other will play on alone while a counter ticks down until respawn - unless the surviving character also gets killed, in which case you'll start again from one of the frequently placed checkpoints.
The control system is simple but effective, and environments feature a decent level of admittedly samey detail, with nice ice effects and satsifying explosions. There's not a great deal of variety between levels - but again, if you're five, that's not so much of an issue.
That said, it's a bit of a shame that they couldn't do with the game what they did with the movie, and create something that will entertain people of all ages. There are other games on the shelves which have managed this - such as Ratchet and Clank, which RotU reminds us of thanks to the industrial look of the environments and and emphasis on blowing things up.
But Rise of the Underminer lacks the imagination, variation and challenge of a game like R&C, and for that it doesn't deserve any more than the score we're about to give it. But if you're a very small child and an Incredibles fan, you can probably add a few more to the score. If your maths is good enough.
6 / 10
Children's titles are rated out of five to differentiate them from the standard Eurogamer scoring system.