Piglet's Big Game
Review by Toger
When A.A. Milne first wrote about the adventures of a Bear with
Very Little Brain and his friends, I wonder if he had any idea
of how loved the characters would be. Or how much of a franchise
Pooh and his cohorts would become once The Mouse latched onto
Piglet's Big Game is the newest kid's game by Take-Two's
Gotham Games. Based on the movie of the same name, it's designed
as a companion piece for the movie. I love the Pooh series and
thought I'd give this game a spin, even though most games based
on movies stink more than Limburger cheese.
PBG begins on a lovely autumn day. Everyone from the Hundred
Acre Wood is out and about having a wonderful timePooh is
stuffing his face with honey, Tigger is painting everything orange
and Rabbit is working in his garden. Piglet, small, scared little
oinker that he is, is certain that he's seen a Granosorus! None
of the others see the dreaded Heffalump and are sure Piglet is
just imagining things. So poor, pouting Piglet wanders off ...
Piglet's Big Game begins once Piglet has wandered far
enough away that he needs to spy on his friends with a telescope.
As the characters fall asleep, Piglet can enter their dreams to
help them and show that he can truly be brave.
Gameplay consists of visiting Piglet's friends' dreams and helping
them solve problemssuch as getting Rabbit's carrot picker
working againcollecting cookies for exchange at the Brave
Face Factory, picking up inventory items and getting rid of the
Heffalumps and Woozles that populate each animal's dream.
Since Piglet's Big Game is marketed as a kid's game, there
really isn't any killing. To vanquish the various Heffalumps and
Woozles, Piglet must scare them away by making a brave (funny)
face. Piglet starts the game with a default brave face, but as
the game progresses and the enemies get a little tougher, Piglet
will need to upgrade his brave face repertoire. To do this, he
must visit the Brave Face Factory in each dream and trade some
cookies for a new, increasingly hilarious brave face.
During enemy encounters, otherwise known as grimace mode, brave
faces are made with various button combinations. At first, the
combos are pretty easy as you're just using the square, circle
and triangle buttons. Then, as you pick up increasingly braver
(scarier) faces directional buttons are thrown into the mix, with
the end game using six, that's right, six, button combinations
to scare off a critter.
Speaking of Heffalumps and Woozles, each comes in at least four
variations ... There's your basic hefty Heffalump with the
too-small-sweater and pork-pie hat, a Woozle who sports a mirror
and Elvis pompadour while turning your world topsy-turvy, a mechanical
Heffalump on wheels with a slot machine belly who will mix up
your button combinations if you don't get it on the first try
and a Woozle that does a "Snidely Whiplash" with his
coat. My personal favorite was the Heffalump wearing the tuba
and circus outfit. The expression on his face when Piglet scares
him off is absolutely priceless.
Visually, this game is a treat. Done in full 3D, all of the backgrounds
are lush, rich, beautifully colored and detailed. Rocks, trees,
benches, etc. have depth and shadow with a realness to them that
makes you want to reach out and touch them. The character models
are almost lifelike. I say "almost" because Piglet and
Pooh both have a funny, rolling walk that reminds me of penguins.
Each dream world reflects the personality of the dreamerOwl's
is filled with books, Rabbit's with his gardens and Eeyore's,
surprisingly enough, is decorated with classical paintings (his
ancestors, of course), statuary and marble fountains.
The decor in Pooh's dream is every kind of yummy sweet imaginablecookies,
biscuits, licorice, gumdrops, graham crackers, bread, jam and,
of course, honey. As a matter of fact, one of the first things
you need to do is help Pooh get unstuck from a big pool of caramel.
Tigger's world is striped. Naturally. Trees, rocks and exposed
ground are all subtly striped in orange and tan. Based on his
gorgeous manicured garden and treehouse, he loves being out-of-doors.
He's even got a carnival, which comes with a Woozle carousel (playing
the song "Sugar in morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at
suppertime ...") and a haunted house inhabited by tennis
My favorite dream world was Roo's. His dream featured backgrounds
and objects hand-drawn on cardboard, in crayon, by a child. The
pieces are then cut out and taped to a larger piece of corrugated
board. As you walk through his dream, you can see the texture
and rippling of the cardboard on the ground. Clouds are suspended
from the ceiling with string. Shrubs and trees are flat pieces
of cutout board taped to the base. Even keys are flat. Upon closer
inspection, you can actually see the corrugated portion of the
board and the individual crayon strokes on the grass walkways
Piglet can't die in PBG; instead, he has two levels of
scaredworried and panicked. If he's worried, Piglet is still
able to enter grimace mode to work his facial magic on critters.
If he's completely panicked, it's better to find Christopher Robin
for a small pep talk before you continue your journey. If you're
feeling cocky and don't chat up Christopher Robin when panicked,
then Piglet will run away screaming if frightened a third time
and you'll need to begin your dream sequence again, although your
progress up to that point will have been saved.
As with other console games, there are save points in each level.
However, when you've accomplished a milestone, the game automagically
saves for you. There's only the one save game slotsince
you cannot die, you really don't need any morebut up to
three different people can play the game with their own personal
PBG uses your basic inventory for all of the items that
you'll find. Being a petit porcine, Piglet can only carry three
objects at a time; however, that doesn't present much of a problem
because most items are used fairly close to where they were originally
found. Dreams are self-contained, so all objects found in a specific
animal's dream will not be used elsewhere. Also, unless you need
certain objects more than once, they'll leave your inventory once
they've been used. (You know it's an adventure game when you can
put a lit candle in your pocket without setting your pants on
fire ... Well, they'd be on fire if Piglet actually wore
Puzzles in PBG are pretty easyafter all, this is
a children's game. The narrator tends to give out huge hints
on what you'll want to do next or what you'll need to look for
in order to accomplish a specific task. Just the thing for a small
fry wanting a taste of adventuring or a seasoned adventurer looking
to give the "small grey cells" a bit of a rest.
There are several timed puzzles (I hear screaming!), but you
usually have more than sufficient time in which to carry out the
needed actions. One timed portion involved collecting Tigger's
stripes as they cavorted about the room. The bad part was that
the stripes scampered around like they were in a caffeine-induced
dance, but the good part was that if I caught one of the five
stripes before time ran out, I didn't have to recatch it when
the sequence started again. (Bless you.)
There are a couple of instances where you'll also play as Pooh
or Tigger. Both proclaim to be able to sneak by Heffalumps and
WoozlesTigger tiptoes around and Pooh just waddles quietly.
(Well, he would if his tumbly wasn't so rumbly and didn't announce
his presence in the room!) I disliked having to use Tigger, because
no matter how far or hard I pushed that control stick, he didn't
move any faster. Trying to dodge Woozles with flashlights isn't
as easy as it sounds when you're moving at a snail's pace.
I just know you're waiting breathlessly for information about
the camera controls ... I liked the camera! Like Clock
Tower 3, the camera in PBG is based on a
movie-like setting. The camera pans as the characters move about
the screen, with no extra fiddling necessary on the part of the
player. In long rooms, the camera moves as if on a dolly and maintains
a fairly good view of each room and Piglet. Only once or twice
did I find the camera view funky, in that the camera seemed to
tilt on a bizarre axis or didn't travel the entire length of the
room. On the other hand, you are in someone's dream, so the physics
of the real world don't apply.
Voice work in PBG was superb. The actors who voice the
movies lent their voices to the game as well. The only thing missing
was Sebastian Cabot as the narrator. The current actor who now
does the narration is pretty close, but he's not Mr. French.
I have a nit to pickthe final "world" in PBG.
Whose idea was it to make the end boss battle ten times tougher
than any other encounter in the game? I understand wanting to
make a big statement at the end with the triumph of good over
evil (or in this case, small over big), but c'mon! Consider your
target audience! Who's most interested in the Pooh stories? Children.
What was the target demographic for Piglet's Big Movie? Small
fry. Who is working the controller for the game? Curtain climbers
or their doting parents. These aren't teens with pinpoint accuracy
in their hand-eye coordination honed by years of quick button
mashing. It's young kids and their bumbling elders! Why would
you make taking out one of the enemies so tough as to be nigh
on impossible? Where's the fun in that?
I so wanted to give this game a gold starbecause
the game is a lot of fun!but the final encounters made me
lose whatever interest I had in seeing the big ending. I'm sure
the hardcore gamers out there are mumbling "whiner,"
and that's okay. The above rant was for you, O Gentle Reader,
you without lightning quick reflexes and unwilling to look your
pride 'n' joy in the face and say, "Mummy just can't do this."
On the other hand, they can't read, so they won't even know there's
a seventh world to explore.
Piglet's Big Game is a sweet little story where Piglet
faces his fears and learns that he doesn't have to be big to be
a hero. (The game will (Wham!) make sure (Wham!)
that you learn this lesson (Wham! Wham!).) Your wee ones
will enjoy itas long as their parental units help in the
face-making button pushingand so will those who are just
young at heart.
Even with the heavy-handedness of the message (Wham!)
and Tigger's snail's-pace tiptoeing, I thoroughly enjoyed playing
this game. I giggled at the different Heffalumps and Woozles and
laughed out loud when Piglet made his faces. And let's face it,
not even the button mashing combinations could completely ruin
italthough there was a lot of screaming on my part. The
fun just never stopped. And for that, Piglet's Big Game gets
the FFC thumb up from me!
By the way, I should mention that there is a PC game of the same
name; however, it's completely different from the console versions.
The story isn't the sameyou're helping Piglet make soupand
it has four mini-games. So don't say I didn't warn you!