Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a classic children’s book that has delighted children around the world. It is the story of a boy from a poor family who wins a visit to the large Wonka chocolate factory – something that every small child can understand and wants him to be able to do himself. Tim Burton’s new film, staring Johnny Depp, brings the story of a new generation of children (children who do not read as many books as older generations) and the video game based on the film should theoretically be a perfect children’s game. The way he misses the mark so badly and contains very little of the magic found in the story is a real secret and a great shame.
The first problem is the fact that the game does not follow the story of the film or the book. You play Charlie and must join the Oompa-Loompas to clean up the mess the other Gold Ticket winners have made. The reason Charlie was tasked with cleaning the facility is unclear, but it doesn’t seem like he’s having as much fun as the other kids. Anyway, kids have caused a number of problems and you need to use the Oompa loompas to fix things.
That is the second big problem. The Oompa-Loompa control is a mess. You need to direct them for specific tasks and choose the right Oompa loompas for the job. Once you have chosen the right type of oompa-loompa and have directed you to the place of the level where you are supposed to go, the problems begin to arise. Although these little guys have been working in the factory for years, they don’t seem to know their way around. I can’t imagine kids getting too excited about the game when they have to sit down and wait while the cheater Oompa-Loompas drives through the levels, gets stuck in the scenery, and usually takes an age to get to his destination. You can’t even do anything to steer them in the right direction. Maybe you could forgive them if they sang nice little songs, but it’s not. The real Oompa loompas were obviously a little too expensive to appear in the game.
There are more traditional platform sections in the game, but these are just as boring to play because of the incredibly clunky controls. As a no-brainer, you won’t really be penalized for doing it wrong, but you’ll often miss jumps and find yourself at the beginning of a level. I have rarely played such an annoying game. Children’s games are often rushed to market in time for a theatrical release, but that’s no excuse for a game as awful to play as this one. There are also times when you may not know what to do to make progress. Since the target age of the game is probably 12 years and under, it’s ridiculous that there aren’t clear signs telling you exactly what to do, and this is another example of a terribly rushed game.
Visually, things aren’t much better, with a bland level that makes the wonderful facility look more like some sort of industrial complex. The only similarity with the fantastic place where every child’s dream comes true is the strong color palette with which the landscape is painted. But to see this is not easy, because the camera often hides behind objects and, as a rule, causes problems.
The audio of the game is its only saving grace, with the work of the voice of all the actors of the film (bar Depp, but someone does a good job of impersonating him), and a generally solid music and sound effects. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are no songs of the Oompa-Loompas. This is another strange decision of the developers and something difficult to understand.
I didn’t think there would be a licensed movie game released this year that could be worse than the Fantastic 4, but I was pretty wrong. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are poor on a completely different level than Activision’s effort. However, despite this almost complete overwhelm of the game, it has and will continue to do well in the sales table. That’s a real shame. For the price of the game, a child could watch the film, buy the book and a selection of other classics by Roald Dahl.