E3 '07: Napoleon Dynamite Hands-On

We ready our nunchaku skills and dive headfirst into Crave's upcoming handheld adaptation of the cult classic comedy. Gosh!


Weird movies are getting made into games. Specifically, weird movies made by Jared Hess are getting made into games. Last year, it was a DS adaptation of Nacho Libre. This year, Napoleon Dynamite is coming to the PSP and DS. Now, we know what you're thinking. How the heck do you make Napoleon Dynamite into a game? It was barely even a movie! Well, quite simply, you toss together a bunch of minigames themed after segments and key comedic moments from the film. Then you put it all together with a sort of kooky cut-and-paste style of animation to call it a game.

By now, you're probably already racking your brains trying to think of clever segments from the film that could be turned into a minigame. Is there a Napoleon dancing game? Is there some kind of Uncle Rico football throwing game? At any point do you have to feed Tina? Yes, yes, yes, and more! The DS version of the game is going to include 24 unique minigames, while the PSP version will have 30. The version we played was the PSP version, and we got to try out all of the above games, as well as a couple more than those mentioned.

First off, the big gun: the Napoleon dancing game. Think Parappa the Rapper. Button and D pad icons skirt across the screen as Napoleon dances; by pressing the buttons in time, Napoleon will do some sweet moves. The timing is actually quite precise, and in the later stages of the game, the presses become extremely fast. The next game, the Uncle Rico football toss, is sort of like all those mobile launching games that have been the rage in recent years. You first set the angle of your toss by hitting the X button at the right moment that a meter goes up and down. Then you set the power of your toss by doing the same thing. Rico goes first, and your goal is to beat his distance. Along the way, you'll find trampolines to boost your toss, and mud pits that slow you down. The Tina feeding game is a game of dodging and shooting. You fire casserole at Tina while trying to avoid her bullets of spit, and she can spit plenty.

The other two games involved Kip's elite hacker skills and the ill-advised purchase of a mail-order time machine by Uncle Rico. In Kip's game, you have to select and rotate a series of computer circuits to get Kip's signal to a library computer while avoiding pitfalls along the way. The time-machine game has you connecting circuits as well, though in this game, you pick the circuit pieces off of a table and connect them to a board. The goal is to use every circuit and get from one side of the board to the other. These two games struck us as being markedly more challenging than the others we played.

With a lot of minigames and a quirky art style, Napoleon Dynamite may just prove to be an amusing distraction for fans of the film. There's no voiced dialogue in the game, but the minigames will be book-ended by text-based cutscenes that include plenty of new jokes in the Napoleon Dynamite vein. We'll be sure to bring you more on Napoleon Dynamite in the coming weeks.

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