WALL-E Review

WALL-E's finicky camera and repetitive gameplay make this one lousy robot adventure.

As a robot designed specifically to make trash cubes, Wall-E's finely honed talent makes up a large part of his existence, but it takes up only a small portion of the movie. There are only so many unique ways Wall-E can interact with waste material before it gets tiring. Sadly, the Nintendo DS version of WALL-E chronicles the robot's twisted relationship with cubes for the entirety of the journey. A puzzle game designed around the joys of slinging garbage may seem like a promising idea, but the tedium of constantly wrestling with a camera that seems to exist solely to hide valuable objects while you dutifully hurl another block at another switch makes for a tedious experience.

The story of WALL-E vaguely follows the events of the movie, but the drama is so separate from the gameplay, it's easy to forget about the narrative thread entirely. Important events are showcased through cartoony cutscenes that, though they bear no artistic relationship to the big screen flick, are well animated and cheery-looking. It's just hard to take Wall-E's plight seriously when you see dramatic encounters play out in cinemas only to go through the same block-throwing puzzles when the action starts up again. The fact that you're a lonely robot trying to save the humans from their own greed and laziness doesn't seem important at all here. The segregated nature of this quest makes everything seem slight and unimportant.

Wall-E squares off against a much more interesting robot.
Wall-E squares off against a much more interesting robot.

Levels are full of conveyor belts, laser-guarded doors, and wall-mounted switches that must be properly tweaked to allow your safe progress. The key to every puzzle is throwing a cube at a switch. The Earth levels have garbage stations where you can collect and compress ordinary trash cubes to toss at enemies or buttons. The later levels, which take place on a spaceship, mix in cubes with different properties. You'll have to manage cubes that explode, implode, and disable electronics (including you) to safely make your way through the next cube-filled room.

There are plenty of head-scratching puzzles along the way, but a number of flaws make this experience more frustrating than rewarding. The camera is awful. You view the action from a top-down, slightly angled perspective. Because switches and obstacles line every wall of the area, you have to constantly rotate your view to see what's going on around you. Methodically tweaking your position is fine when you aren't in any immediate danger, but the later levels are full of enemies that make patience impossible.

Furthermore, the punishment system is far too strict. You can only be hit five times per level before you perish. Each level has about five rooms that you need to successfully traverse before you can save your progress. Every time you are struck by a laser or accidentally fall down a pit, you lose precious energy. Because of your limited view of the play area, it is far too common to slip down a hole you didn't realize you were standing so close to or be hit by a laser you would have sworn was going to miss you. And though Wall-E will flail his metal arms when he gets close to a pit, you can't actually guide him away from death before he plummets. If you get too close to a pit, you fall in and lose some health. If you do this too often, you'll be replaying the same areas over and over again.

At least the cutscenes look pretty good.
At least the cutscenes look pretty good.

There are some sections where you control Eve, but these only detract from the overall package. As Eve, you fly down a narrow path, avoiding propellers and dropping blocks along the way. There is too much pop-in here to fly quickly though, so this turns into a jerky, stop/start affair. It's a clunky detour from the main puzzle solving adventure that serves to frustrate rather than exhilarate. The visuals apart from the charming cutscenes are also more of a hindrance than a help. It's difficult to ascertain which environmental pieces can be safely interacted with and which will damage you. Thus, each new graphical variation leads to trial and error before you figure out the role of every blurry object. The two-cart multiplayer has players race in the Eve levels, but they're just as uninteresting with a friend.

WALL-E may have a few interesting puzzles, but the frustrating elements serve to make this adventure far too tedious in the long run. Even fans of the movie just looking for a portable robot pal will be disappointed here--the eye-straining visuals and poorly integrated storytelling make this a drastic departure from the theatrical hit.

The Good
Cool cutscenes
Some interesting puzzles
The Bad
Repetitive gameplay
Annoying camera
Severe punishment system
Blurry graphics
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WALL-E More Info

  • First Released Jun 24, 2008
    • DS
    • Macintosh
    • + 6 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 2
    • PlayStation 3
    • PSP
    • Wii
    • Xbox 360
    Based on the Pixar movie, this game puts you in the the treads of WALL-E and EVE as they adventure across the galaxy.
    Average Rating958 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Helixe, Heavy Iron Studios, Asobo Studio, Savage Entertainment
    Published by:
    THQ, Focus Multimedia, SCEA, Disney Interactive Studios
    Platformer, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence