Disney's Chicken Little: Ace In Action
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-12-18 Nintendo DS Action/Adventure E (Everyone) Buena Vista Games / DC Studios

Chicken Little was definitely not one of my favorite movies. The highlights for me were the fish and the porcupine. Ok, the little fuzzy alien was cute too, but that's about it. I watched it just because, and felt like I wasted my time.

Seeing a small package with an unexpected copy of Chicken Little: Ace in Action arrive, my first reaction was to put it aside while I grabbed a bubble envelope to send it to another of the staff writers. But by the time I noticed, my husband had already opened it, was playing it and yelling out "This is just your type of game!", which was a very good sign.

Chicken Little: Ace in Action is based on the characters from the "movie in the movie". The superstar Hollywood versions of Ace, Runt, Abby and Fish-Out-of-Water. The team faces an evil plan of Foxy Loxy and Goosey Loosey to take over Earth. Fish is your "tech genius" of sorts, giving you instructions at the beginning of each level, while Ace, Runt and Abby are playable characters.

Ace takes on missions on foot while Runt drives a slow armored tank in the 3D action levels, while Abby pilots a spaceship in vertical scrolling shooter missions. The three heroes adventure across the galaxy fighting off evil robots and bosses through a series of levels, and saving little fizzles.

You control the movement of the characters with the D-pad, and use the A, B, X and Y buttons to control the direction in which they shoot. For shooting diagonally, you must press two buttons simultaneously. It's a very unusual control scheme, to say the least, and it took me a while to adjust to it, particularly the diagonal shooting.

With the action taking place on the top screen, the touch screen acts as weapon selector and statistics monitor, showing you how many fizzles you have saved, how many grenades you have left, how much power for each weapon, and what's the status of your health and shield. There is also a mini-map that shows enemy locations as they appear (red triangles).

As you will notice after a short while, since pretty much every defeated robot drops some, the little fizzles are your currency. In between levels, you get the chance to purchase some upgrades: shot power, shield duration, faster shooting, etc.

You're constantly in combat, being ambushed at times too. Fortunately, you will frequently come across useful temporary power-ups (three-way shot, rapid fire, health recovery, area nukes) giving you some very welcome boosts.

Ace in Action also offers a multiplayer mini-game for two players, but both must have a game card. The purpose is to move the fizzles into the holes and collect more than your opponent. There are five levels of difficulty for this game, with barriers making the collection harder, each layout more complicated than the one before.

Graphically, the level design is pretty linear, but the environments are nicely done in full 3D. I did experience some glitches though, random black horizontal lines on the top portion of the top screen. The cut-scenes have some really nice artwork as well.

Soundwise, you will be constantly hearing explosions, blasts and mechanical sounds, but the soundtrack still comes through perfectly. I really enjoyed the music since it fits the heroic action theme like a glove.

The biggest surprise was actually the difficulty level. For a game rated E and based on a children's movie, this really isn't a kiddie game. It's actually somewhat embarrassing to say that it took me hours to figure out the strategy to get past that first boss fight.

Some of the levels are fairly big, and although there is a mid-level checkpoint, a boss fight checkpoint and infinite continues, you can only save your progress at the end of each level. Add to that the mass amounts of robots, turrets, bouncy balls and whatever else that hurts you to the original shooting controls, and you have one hell of an action game.

Not exactly as child-friendly as one would expect, that's mostly why Chicken Little: Ace in Action ended up being a very pleasant surprise and a great addition to my DS games library. It's a game I would recommend to any action fans.

Special thanks to Katherine Lollar and Buena Vista Games for providing a copy of this title.