This article was originally published at Aussie-Nintendo.com
If you are familiar only with the fable then Chicken Little: Ace in Action will no doubt have you very confused. The game is actually a spin-off of the Disney take on the classic Chicken Little tale. Rather than a game based around events in the movie, Ace in Action is based off the unexpected parody film within the film itself. The plot involves larger than life alter egos of Chicken Little and his friends from the movie as they travel across the galaxy and fight Foxy Loxy and her sidekick Goosey Loosey; who are (of course) trying to take over the world. Essentially then, this game has almost nothing in common with the movie, let alone the original source material. This is not really a bad thing as the massive changes make plenty of room for a decent game structure and the movie was terrible anyway.
Ace in Action is basically an action-adventure game, though it does blend in some platforming, flight and even some simple RPG elements as well. There are 23 levels spread over two planets, the moon and our poor dwarf-planet Pluto. On each of these worlds the characters Ace, Abby and Runt play out different levels, each with slightly differing play styles. Ace is on foot with a big gun and his levels are usually more confined in structure. Abby flies a ship and usually has objectives to destroy cannons or shields in an open playfield. Finally, Runt uses a tank and basically just has to destroy everything in sight. All three character modes sound different but actually play very similarly, each employing the pointer function for aiming and shooting. These levels are all tied together by a story involving the original Disney movie characters playing a Wii game, based on the movie in the movie, where they have to save the world. This might seem confusing until you have seen the movie and played the game.
As the license should already suggest, this game is orientated to the younger crowd and it is simple to pick up and play. It requires the nunchuk and movement is done by using the analog stick. Moving the nunchuk up and down is also used to move the ship vertically in Abby’s levels. Aiming weapons uses the pointer and the A button and the trigger do the shooting of the primary and secondary weapons. Apart from a few movement restrictions, all characters are indeed very similar. The different play modes do add variety but their close similarity makes this somewhat superficial. The objectives for each level are very similar too. Ace in Action lives up to its name as almost every level, for any character involves destroying everything in sight. Whether big or small, a force field or a tank; you must destroy constantly and it is certainly fun if it is all you are expecting. Ace’s levels also have some puzzle elements for opening door locks but these are placed inappropriately and break up the pace of the game.
There are upgrades available to each character and they are essential for easy progression. They include the typical weapon, health and shield upgrades that double and triple your power. Upgrades are earned by collecting Acornium which you collect from pretty much everything you blow up, making it an extremely common currency. There are also Mega Acorniums which give you even more credit. After getting most of the gameplay upgrades you can also use the Acornium for the extra features and various unlocks such as music and concept art. This is a very simple feature and is obviously simplified for a younger crowd but it does add variety to the game and give players something to come back for.
Ace in Action is a PS2 port and the overall graphical presentation is certainly at that level, however it still generally looks good. Saturn is styled like Cloud City in the Star Wars movies, Mars is full of vegetation (you find out when you play), Pluto is a prison complex and the Moon has been turned into a space base. These settings all make some interesting possibilities but it is really Mars that stands out and feels more alive. The game includes a lot of indoor sections and these are the parts that look the most similar over all. The characters themselves stand out with fluid animations that come pretty close to their CGI inspiration. The cutscenes use the in-game engine and look quite good. There is nothing much overall to say above ‘good’ but it is good enough for what it is, which is actually something I’m getting sick of saying for each Wii game that comes a long.
Probably the best inclusion on this game was Adam West even though the target audience won’t get much out of him. West did the voice for the short section with Ace in the film and has come back to do the whole game here. He is constantly making comments (usually self-aggrandising) and suits the role of cocky Rooster well. He alone makes the cutscenes worth watching and Family Guy or Batman fans might want to rent this based on him alone. The other voice cast are disappointing with a ditzy (and sleepy) sounding Abby, typically macho Runt and the robotic science officer Fish. Apart from West the voice cast is really quite boring (or just plain annoying in Abby’s case). The main musical theme is your typical heroic style theme and used for the menu and level success. The world game music is ambient enough to be almost unnoticeable which is unfortunate. The sound effects involve lots of lasers and explosions and they sound quite dated (I even thought I heard a few similar to lasers in original Perfect Dark).
As stated far above, Ace in Action has 23 levels which appears promising until you see how short and in a few cases – how unnecessarily long they are. It probably has about 4-5 hours from start to finish but the unlockables and achievements in each level will extend the game for those that want to bash through again. The extras aren’t very interesting in themselves but unlocking them is something to do if you want to play through certain levels again. There is also a two-player death match mode where you can use either the tank or ship and fight. It feels tacked on and doesn’t offer much variety or incentive to play. What would have improved the game a lot is co-operative. The game is perfectly suited for split screen co-op and the Wii could have easily managed it. The ease of pick-up and style of play makes Ace in Action perfectly suited for it so it is a real shame that it wasn’t included.
Ace in Action is decent for a movie license – if only because it is actually better than its inspiration. The other positive is the controls actually work properly and gameplay is generally fun. There is a fair bit of repetition and the game isn’t very hard or long but it would be a good rental or pick-up for a younger child and a bit of fun for fans of the genre or Adam West.