Bionicle: The Game - A mask best left undiscovered
The Past of Bionicle:
Although, as most people know, Bionicle is a set of Lego action figures, Bionicle's past is actually much deeper than just some toy releases. Bionicle was one of the few Lego sets to feature a full, and deep, storyline, and it is also one of the few series that Lego went all out on to promote. Many toy sets were created, a lot of cool TV commercials aired, and on top of all of that, there was a MASSIVE Bionicle website fans could visit. Sure fans could also put the mini CDs in their computer which game with the Bionicle sets, but they were nothing compared to the official website.
On the official website everything was kept up to date, and the full Bionicle story was told. Just about every week flash movies would be uploaded on the site in an episodic format, there was a detailed encyclopedia covering just about every piece of information related to Bionicle, and there was even a full Adventure game, called Mata Nui Online, (which opened up where the original Game Boy Advance Bionicle game left off). In short, the Bionicle website was packed full of content, there were hours worth of movies for you to watch, and the adventure game actually allowed you to explore the entire world, see the Bionicle story from the eyes of a young villager named Takua's eyes, and it really just flat out drew you into the world. The adventure game was so well done, years later a sequel was actually released, and just like the first, it was amazing.
With hundreds of hours worth of story and content, the Bionicle website, along with his movies and games, was the place to be if you were a Bionicle fan! That was until they announced EA was releasing a 3D adventure game!
The Story of Bionicle The Game:
The game opens with a short retelling of the Bionicle story. Basically there is this island that is under the attack from the dark forces sent by the Makuta, and the villagers only hope is to wait for the six legendary Toa to show up and save the day... And that is what happens. Just like with the original Lego sets, each of the Toa crash landed on the island, they put themselves together, and then set out on a question to find each of the masks of power.
In the Bionicle world, the masks each "person" wears on their face actually gives them different powers. For example one mask will give the power of flight, while another mask makes whoever wears it stronger. It is a really interesting concept, and Lego sold MANY extra mask packs simply because of how the masks were used in the story, but none of this is really explained in the game... Actually, NOTHING is explained in the game!
The story in Bionicle: The Game is non existent. The game opens up with the Toa of fire Tahu, and he ends up fighting a bohrok, but why? Also, if you haven't follows Bionicle up to this point, what the heck is a bohrock? The thing about this game is, it expects you to know everything about the long Bionicle history, and it expects you to be able to piece everything together. The game actually covers the 2001-2003 storyline, but it only covers bits and pieces! Basically this game takes, say, fifty or so hours worth of content (minus the amount of time it may have actually taken you to finish the Adventure games), and compresses it into a few short cutscenes.
Character's pasts aren't explained, the game never explains how the bohrok came about and how they discovered that they are actually robots being controlled by the Krana, which are mask like things, and it also never even explains what the rahkshi are. Both the bohrok and rahkshi had a major impact on the Bionicle storyline, yet in this game, they are just kind of there...
Another problem with the story is that after the first few cutscenes, all of the Toa are transformed into the Toa Nuva, and it is never explained. One minute all of the characters look normal, and then out of no where they are bigger, have body armor, have new masks, and they have new weapons. Nothing is ever said why this happened, and it all plays out in a short flashy random cutscene. Once again this was a very important event in the Bionicle history, and along with just about everything else, the entire story arc was left out of the game.
Really, this game has no story. Yes Bionicle has a story, a really long and complicated one, but none of that story is told in game. Bionicle: The Game is a game that was created to take you through the Toa's entire storyline, from start to end, yet none of the story is really there. The few story parts are mostly random conversations which have nothing to do with the story, and it is near impossible to follow; even if you are a die hard Bionicle fan.
The Island of Mata Nui:
One of the most interesting parts of Bionicle is the world it takes place in, and the island of Mata Nui itself.
Mata Nui is a massive island that is basically broken up into six sections, one for each Toa, and each section is vastly different. There is Ta-Wahi is the volcanic section of the island, Ga-Wahi is the ocean section, Onu-Wahi is the underground tunnels, Le-Wahi is the jungle, Po-Wahi is the desert, and Ko-Wahi is the icy mountains. Each region of the island is vastly different, and that makes the island of Mata Nui one of the most unique worlds you could see in a video game! Exploring Mata Nui is what really made past Bionicle games fun, and it really allowed you to see a lot of unique places. The volcano top village, the beautiful seaside village, the massive underground tunnels, the amazing tree tops and swap, the unique desert with its rock formations, and the icy mountains.
Sadly, despite having such a great world to create this game in, Bionicle: The Game doesn't take advantage of it at all...
The Toa and Gameplay:
In Bionicle: The Game, you get to take control of each of the two at least once, and play through levels that take place in their section of the island; however the game really doesn't pull this off too well.
The basic gameplay in Bionicle is as follows. You can shoot an energy ball out of your weapon, you can walk around, you can jump, you can put up a shield, and you can recharge your energy that is used up every time you attack. Yep, that is it. Still, at least each of the Toa have their own levels to play through right? Well...
Tahu, Toa of Fire, is the first Toa you get to play as in this game, and there really isn't much else to say about him besides that. As expected, his level takes place ini the Ta-Wahi region, but there really isn't much more too it than jumping from floating rock platforms to floating rock platforms. You cannot explore, you cannot go to the amazing volcano top village, and you really can't go off the beaten path. Tahu's level is a simple, from start to finish, platforming level with no depth. All of the platforming is basic, enemies die after a few hits, and it is impossible to die on his boss fight unless you actually kill yourself.
Kopaka, Toa of Ice, is the second Toa you get to play as, and is who I would call my favorite Toa. Kopaka with his sword and shield just always stood out to me, and I always loved the icy mountain he lived on; however if you're a Kopaka fan, lets just say this game is about to smack you in your face. Kopaka's level is a slow moving, non stop, "snow boarding" level with not much going on. You chase an enemy down the mountain, and that is it. No exploring the village, again, you are given basically no control over where Kopaka goes since you're stuck on rails, and there is just no challenge.
Gali, Toa of Water, is the third Toa, and actually one of the most Toas to play as. Her level, unlike all of the others, actually takes place in her village, you get to explore the waterways, and there is much more too it than simple platforming. Even so, her level doesn't last long, and you will be moving onto the next character in no time. Still, it is very nice to actually get to explore at least some part of the Bionicle world in this game.
Pohatu, Toa of Stone, is another character that is fun to play as, but once again, that really doesn't last long. Pohatu is basically the guy who loves to run around at high speeds, and pull off crazy loop-de-loop tricks as he runs through the desert, but none of that was even included in his gameplay! To sum Pohatu's gameplay up, basically, think mine cart. You can get into a mine cart, move left and right, speed up and slow down, and jump. That is all...
Onua, Toa of Earth, is another character who lives in a very interesting world, mainly because his village is a massive town underground! Still, his gameplay is even more basic than Tahu. Onua's gameplay consists of slow paced platforming, boring rock pushing puzzles, and boring cave passageways. In short, this game took everything fun out of Onua's world, and made into another standard cave.
Lewa, Toa of Air, is the sixth and "final" Toa, and his gameplay alone almost makes up for the rest of the characters. Lewa lives in the jungle based area, and he also has the ability to glide through the air! Although much of his gameplay is standard platforming, his level truly does make use of his gliding ability, and it also helps give you a bit more of a sense of freedom; however it also doesn't last too long. There are only so many places you can glide to, there's some annoying wind currents that you must follow to reach some other areas (which are hard to use thanks to the game's controls), and once again, there really isn't much of a challenge.
So in the end, if I were to sum up all of Bionicle's gameplay in a single world, that word would be "basic." The game is set up so even a five year old wouldn't have a problem playing it, it really doesn't do anything new that we haven't seen before, and at least half of the levels are filled with annoying gimmicks.
The Good and Bad of Bionicle:
Bionicle truly was an amazing "action figure" like series, and it is easily one of the best Lego sets out there. The characters were fun and unique, the sets were fun to build (especially the larger ones which could sometimes take all day to put together), and the story was actually really good! It had a fun Game Boy Advance game, it had two really good PC adventure games, the movie was actually really good for a kids movie, and all of the PC extras were great. It really is sad to say that NONE of this applies to the video game!
The truth is, Bionicle: The Game just isn't that good. The gameplay is pretty basic, it is filled with gimmicks, there is basically no story, the game's terminology is confusing if you haven't been following the series, the graphics are lower quality, the music really isn't rememberable, and, above all else, it is VERY short. Bionicle: The Game is one of them games that you can beat in less than two hours, and it is also one of them games you won't want to replay. If the game was actually well designed, had a good story, or featured some really nice levels, then the fact that it is so short really wouldn't be a problem; however that is not the case.
If you're a Bionicle fan, and you can get this game for free, go for it; you really have nothing to lose besides a few hours of your life. If you've never seen anything Bionicle related, and you're simply looking for a nice game to pick up and play, then I only have one word for you... Run.
I give Bionicle: The Game a rare rating of 3/10. I love the Bionicle series, I love the world, and I did like the other video game releases, but the only good point this game has is that it is non canon.