Anyone who has seen a Disney movie lately will probably have witnessed the trailer for Meet the Robinsons, Disney's upcoming computer-animated kid's film. Like any decent kid's film, Meet the Robinsons is also going to have a video game tie-in accompanying it when it hits theaters in March, and Buena Vista Games was kind enough to stop by and show off an early build of it for us.
The plot of Meet the Robinsons revolves around Lewis, an orphaned child genius who develops a device to read minds, hoping to use it on himself to unearth memories of his real parents. His plot goes awry when it turns out that his machine is actually a time-traveling device. A messy situation arises when travelers from the future attempt to travel back in time to steal the world's first time machine and use its power for themselves. To make things worse, one of the travelers is Lewis's future son, Wilbur, who is intent on helping his dad out when his dad was himself just a kid. Hilarity ensues!
One of the ways Avalanche Software, the developers of the Meet the Robinsons game, is attempting to avoid the pitfalls of the standard movie-adaptation game is by approaching the subject matter in an interesting manner: Instead of throwing together a straight adaptation of the movie's plot, the developers have instead used the opportunity to create a game that fills in the gaps in the movie's timeline (and when you make a film about time travel, those have a tendency to pop up) by focusing on Wilbur's adventures in the timestream.
The focus of the game isn't the standard platforming jump-a-thon that you might expect; indeed, there isn't even a jump button in the current design, although you can jump when needed based on the context. Instead, you're going to find yourself using gadgets most of the time to find your way through the levels. Wilbur, like his father, is adept at creating mechanical devices, and he'll have to do so to overcome the obstacles in front of him.
The gadget the developers are most proud of at this point is the disassembler, which Wilbur can use to reduce objects in the environment to their base components. When you fire the disassembler, the object you've hit won't just explode; instead, each discrete item will have its own disassembling animation, giving you plenty of eye candy to witness while you're scrounging for parts.
There are three modes in the game. The first is a basic third-person action-platforming mode. The first level we witnessed saw Wilbur attempting to escape from an Egyptian temple that was coming down around his head. As he passed through the environment, massive pillars threatened to crush him as they fell, and he had to hop across falling walkways as they disintegrated. Later on, we witnessed him attempting to access his father's vault in the future to obtain access to the time machine hidden there; he was forced to evade the security systems and warp fields by some creative interactions with the environment.
In addition to the third-person mode, Meet the Robinsons will feature an odd mode that's somewhat reminiscent of a Super Monkey Ball game, wherein Wilbur enters a spherical force field and has to roll himself around to navigate the environment. There's also a Dig Dug-esque two-dimensional side-scrolling mode to contend with.
Meet the Robinsons is currently scheduled to ship next spring, alongside its cinematic namesake, so stay tuned to GameSpot for more information on the game as it arrives.