Ratatouille for the Nintendo DS transforms key events from the popular Disney/Pixar movie into a collection of adventure levels and touch-screen cooking tasks. In the adventure levels, you'll help Remy the rat to run, jump, climb, and sneak his way through intricate 3D environments in order to gather the ingredients necessary to prepare Linguini's recipes. Once you've collected the necessary ingredients for a recipe, you'll then use the stylus and touch screen to chop those ingredients, mix them together, and cook them up into the dishes that'll be served in the restaurant--just like Remy and Linguini did in the film. The game won't occupy more than an afternoon of your time, but you'll probably enjoy every minute of it if you're a fan of the film it's based on.
All of the adventure missions take place in 3D replicas of the pantry, kitchen, cooler, and dining areas at Gusteau's Restaurant. The environments aren't huge, but they're intricately laid out. Each one has plenty of chairs and stacked boxes to climb on, sinks and stove surfaces to run across, and multiple layers of shelves that allow you to ascend from the floor to the ceiling. Your job is to gather the ingredients Linguini has requested without getting caught in too many mousetraps or being seen by one of Skinner's goons. Remy is an athletic rat. Using the directional pad and buttons, you can make him run, jump, climb up vertical wires, and perform a backward somersault that doubles his leap. You can also ride on top of melons to spring traps, and use springboards to hurtle Remy upwards. There aren't any enemies to speak of, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, a meter gradually fills up to represent how close you are to being seen. The meter will decrease if you hide in dark cubbies or under overturned cans and boxes. If it fills up, Skinner will catch you and you'll have to start the level over.
After you collect the necessary ingredients for a recipe, you'll then have to make the dishes for that night's menu. This is accomplished through a series of minigame tasks that require heavy use of the system's touch screen and microphone. First, you have to cut and chop the vegetables and slice the breads and cheeses. As individual food items appear on the touch screen, you have to trace the stylus along the indicated lines in order to cut the food before time runs out. Next, you have to mix and cook the dishes. Using the stylus, you drag items from the side of the screen into the three different pots, and then stir the pots to make them cook faster. If a pot gets too hot, you can blow into the microphone to cool it down. Lastly, you have to plate and garnish the dishes. Much like the cutting minigame, this is accomplished by tapping and drawing the indicated patterns on the food with the stylus, which is supposed to represent laying down garnish and drizzling sauces.
The 3D environments in the adventure levels are rather impressive. If you land on a bag of flour, a white puff will erupt. If you run through a flaming cooktop, Remy's fur will turn dark and smoke for a little while. As it is, Remy has a healthy range of animations. Watching him ride a melon like a unicycle is hilarious, and seeing him use his back legs to push his way onto a ledge is just plain cute. The 2D and 3D food items and pots in the cooking stages aren't nearly as impressive, but you'll be too preoccupied by sliding the stylus around to care. In both types of levels, your actions are accompanied by upbeat Parisian-style music and whimsical sound effects that mimic the film's atmosphere. Meanwhile, the story is told through scenes displayed between stages that consist of still images taken from the movie along with some text dialogue. Overall, the presentation is about what you'd expect from a polished DS game, though it would've been nice if they had recorded some speech clips.
Each adventure mission takes about five minutes to finish, while the cooking tasks usually last five or 10 minutes. You're always on the move in the adventure levels, and Remy's smell ability ensures that you'll never get lost. The cooking minigames aren't terribly difficult, but using the stylus to chop veggies and stir boiling pots is actually quite a lot of fun in small doses. All told, the two alternating styles of play complement each other. The downside is that the short levels combine to make a relatively brief game. You'll blow through the whole story in three hours. There aren't any side quests or hidden bonuses to lure you into replaying missions. However, you can kill some extra time by playing the stand-alone cooking minigame. You can even beam a copy of it onto a friend's system and compete to see who can finish the dishes the quickest.
Short and sweet is the story with the Nintendo DS rendition of Ratatouille. The adventure levels are lively and the touch-screen cooking game is very engaging, not to mention in line with what Remy did in the film. It's just a shame that the game can be polished off in a single afternoon.