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Happy Feet
Preview By: Jared Black
Developer: Artificial Mind and Movement
Publisher: Midway
Genre: Platformer
ESRB: Everyone
# Of Players: 1-2
Online Play: No
Accessories: N/A
Estimated Release: 11/19/2006

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It’s practically a law at this point – all animated movies (with the exception of dreck like Doogal) must get a video game tie-in. Animated movies appeal to children…children play video games…parents and aunts/uncles need easy presents…and there you have it. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but they almost always guarantee a nice profit margin for the publisher.

Fortunately Happy Feet the movie seems promising from the trailers, which could bode well for the video game adaptation as well. The movie is set in Antartica, and revolves around the Emperor Penguins native to the land. This particular group of penguins loves to sing, with each needing its own special song to attract a mate. Unfortunately lead character Mumble Happyfeet is a horrible singer, and is instead gifted with the ability to tap dance. Thus begins a Bug’s Life-like tale where Mumble is banished, and no doubt finds redemption along the way through the art of tap dancing (what kind of kid’s movie would it be if he didn’t?).

Happy Feet

Like most animated children’s movies it features a strong group of voice actors, with Elijah "Frodo" Wood voicing Mumble, while Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman voice Mumble’s parents Elvis and Norma Jean. Other big stars contribute as well, including Robin Williams, Hugo Weaving, and even the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. So sound wise, we can expect a strong class of voice acting and a lighthearted music track mirroring that found in the movie.

We don’t know a whole lot about how the game will play on Wii, but what we do know seems to fall in the “simple variety” category. In other words, the game takes advantage of the Wii Remote, but keeps things simple enough for the pre-pubescent crowd that’ll no doubt want the game. The game features at least three different gameplay types, including dancing, belly sledding, and swimming. Dancing appears to play just like the dancing mini-game does in Rayman Raving Rabbids, with the player swinging the remote left, right, up and down to correspond with the arrows that appear onscreen. Meanwhile, when sledding and swimming players will turn the Wii Remote on its side (with the D-pad on the left) and tilt it to steer. And that’s basically it for the controls; as far as we know, the nunchuk is not used at all.

Clearly aimed at younger gamers, Happy Feet probably won’t appeal directly to anyone reading this preview right now. However, Midway seems to know exactly what to do with a license like this, keeping things simple while still utilizing the Wii Remote to good effect. The result should be a solid game that makes an excellent present for younger Wii gamers this holiday season.

Posted: 2006-11-12 06:04:48 PST