Bolt
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-05-06 Xbox 360 Action/Platform E10 (Everyone 10+) Disney Interactive / Avalanche Software

Licensed games usually don't live up to our expectations, but the "movie turned game" trend keeps on going, usually just another opportunity to generate extra revenue from a particular brand.

However, Bolt seems to be a little beyond your usual "movie turned game", even if it suffers from the three downfalls of the "genre".

Bolt is an action/platformer taking place in the same context as the movie, but as a separate story. Superdog Bolt and his person, Penny, star in a series of adventures where Penny's dad is being held hostage by Dr. Calico in order to build him a special weapon. Itís up to Bolt and Penny to rescue him and make things right. And this is about as much story as you get, with Dr. Calico escaping chapter after chapter.

You do get to play as both Bolt and Penny, on separate occasions. You use Penny to sneak in to the evil-doers' lair, using her Wheelbar to overcome platforms, and her Vision mode always tells you exactly where to go. Then hack a computer or two by playing a shooter mini-game that resembles Geometry Wars, and knock out a bad guy or two, only to find herself captured. At this point, you switch to Bolt, with his super combat moves, super bark and laser eye beams.

Bolt has light, heavy and super attacks, plus an added Super mode, which is like a special area attack that can clear a whole room. Defeating enemies with light and heavy attacks rewards you with energy that you can use to perform super attacks. There is also a combo counter that charges up your Super mode meter. The difficulty of the battles gradually increases, and you will find yourself battling waves after waves of enemies, which requires a bit of strategy: light and heavy attacks on easier foes, super attacks on the tougher ones, and Super mode for when things really get ugly.

The combat is fun, but really repetitive, so in a way, Penny's stealth gameplay sequences seem to be a well-deserved break from the action, but they eventually get repetitive themselves. And that is the first downfall of the game.

The second is the game's longevity, about 7 hours. And that is assuming you get past the repetitiveness and get that far. There is no replay value to be found, and the only rewarding extras are the achievements (which also give you gameplay tips when you unlock them) and a bunch of levels of the shooter mini-game.

On a technical approach, there really isn't much in terms of voice acting. Bolt as a superdog doesn't speak, and the most you get as a "dialogue" are Penny's comments such as "After him!" or "There he is! Get him, Bolt!" - but at least, it's good voice acting there. The music was ok, but not too noteworthy. The game truly shines in the graphical aspect though, the environments are great and there were no slowdowns to be found.

Overall, Bolt is not a bad game. It has some really good ideas, such as the interesting combat, and really great visuals. Unfortunately, it becomes pretty repetitive throughout, the adventure is fairly short and offers very little replay value. I mentioned three downfalls when I started this review, and so far I've explained two. The very last downfall is the game's $49 price tag, which is quite expensive but common for licensed games. Still, even with its common "movie to game" faults, Bolt is actually worth playing through.


Special thanks to Disney Interactive for providing a copy of this title.