Just as you can count on Pixar to release a computer-animated film every year, you can count on a game based on that movie to be released alongside it. Another thing you can count on is that the game will probably sell pretty well if last year's Cars, which shipped more than 7 million copies, is any indication. THQ is hoping the trend continues since it's releasing the game based on Pixar's upcoming film Ratatouille (pronounced: rat-a-too-ee). The game was playable at Sony's recent press event, and we were able to play through the first level.
Ratatouille follows the adventures of Remy, a rat who begins to dream of becoming a French chef after watching a cooking show through the window of a home, because he's tired of literally eating the same old garbage day after day. The game will follow the basic story of the movie and will also fill in some gaps with material created specifically for the game. THQ is working closely with Pixar to ensure that the game matches the look and feel of the movie. The character models are all detailed and look just like they do in the movie--the fur is particularly impressive looking. All of the voice actors from the movie are on board as well.
The first level of the game takes place outside, and since you're controlling a small rat, the environment feels very large. With the help of Remy's brother Emiel, you must run, climb, and jump your way through the level, which is basically a tutorial, collecting 20 charms along the way. Emiel will teach you how to use a chili pepper as a bomb, a tuna can as a trampoline, and a straw as a "ratapult," among other things. The controls are simple, and the game is careful to make sure you've got all the information you need to make it through your journey; there are tips displayed during load screens and plenty of tutorials and onscreen instructions, and the game even highlights items that you can interact with. In our run-through of the level, we ran over some ants while balancing atop a ball, repelled another group of ants with a can of bug spray, and even used a tiny drink umbrella to float across a large area. A later level had Remy running from a woman wearing a gas mask and wielding a shotgun. As Remy ran toward the screen we had to maneuver him around and over obstacles until he reached the safety of a stream. The PlayStation 3 version of the game will include Sixaxis support, so you'll need to tilt the controller to guide Remy as he glides with the umbrella and move it left and right to keep your balance while walking on a narrow beam.
While the game is geared toward the younger set, there are some things that older players can look forward to. There are plenty of hidden objectives, such as finding a chess piece and placing it on a chess board, which when completed will unlock artwork and making-of video clips. There are also 30 minigames that can be played at any time once they've been unlocked in the single-player mode.
While our hands-on time with the game was limited to the PS3 version, Ratatouille will be coming out alongside the movie on pretty much any console you can think of: PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, PSP, Xbox, Wii, DS, and Game Boy Advance. Stay tuned for more as we get closer to the release of the game (and the film).