Review - the film was always going to be license fodder, but who could have predicted such a good game?
Monsters, Inc. was - in my opinion - a fairly risible Disney/Pixar romp, and let's face it, it was no Toy Story. THQ's licensed adaptation of the film for GameBoy Advance therefore came as something of a surprise. It's an original and highly entertaining platform game, which has you playing the enigmatic James "Sulley" Sullivan, voiced by John Goodman in the film, as he attempts to reunite the missing pieces of Boo's door with its frame and return the cuddly mite to her true home. Sulley has to contend with the interests of the Child Detection Agency (CDA) though, and those guys are merciless! Sulley has two main weapons to counter the efforts of the CDA however; his roar and Boo's laughter. Sulley can roar at any time and this is effective in removing the idle threat of random CDA agents and other monsters, but some of the CDA's best men are impervious to simple roaring. To defeat them, Sulley has to collect cans of Boo's laughter which can remove any agent it comes into contact with and temporarily paralyses any other enemy in the vicinity. As the game progresses, you can increase the effectiveness of Sulley's roar by collecting blue power-ups scattered along his path, until it can knock down virtually anybody Sulley comes into contact with. The game is targeted at kids who enjoyed the movie though, and apart from getting a right royal treat of a game in return for their pocket money, they also get a game devoid of death and carnage. Sulley doesn't kill his enemies: he merely incapacitates them.
Graphically speaking Monsters, Inc. is fairly accomplished for a 2D side-scrolling platformer, and unlike Mario Advance and similar titles, THQ have even had a bash at the third dimension in places, giving the game added visual depth and complexity. Furthermore, vibrant colour schemes and easily distinguishable character sprites coupled with some superb animation make for a nice overall effect, although the repeating backgrounds can get a little tiresome. Many of the film's locations are faithfully recreated as best they can be, and the familiar and enjoyable soundtrack complements the action satisfactorily. In terms of gameplay Monsters, Inc. is the antithesis of the average videogame. Instead of fighting the monsters, you actually are one, and this gives you a pretty big advantage over the average rapscallions you encounter. But that doesn't mean you can simply waltz through the game before lunchtime. The learning curve for the game is practically horizontal but the final stages of the game are very tricky, and if you're buying this game for a younger relative he or she might require a little assistance! [Yeah, right. Nice excuse - Ed] In fact the game's only major fault is its length. As its 20 levels (including bonus maps and mini-games) are easily finished in under a day it represents a questionable £35 investment, but I found myself happily playing through it a couple of times over. As a platform game though it stands out amongst the console's finest, easily giving Super Mario Advance a run for its money.
Monsters, Inc. is a fun game, based on a fun movie. It's been aimed at kids, but I have a hunch (call it an Inc'ling), that the developers knew how many Dads and older brothers would fancy a go and worked with that in mind. It's a very accomplished and innovative platformer in places, and I'm not accustomed to saying that on these pages. It also shows that THQ are capable of doing more than the bare minimum with their licenses, and that's a very encouraging thought.