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Score: 46%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: D3
Developer: Papaya Studio
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (3D)/ Puzzle/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:
Quite literally after I got home from watching the new movie Coraline, I started playing Coraline for the PS2. I am still a little baffled at who the audience is supposed to be for either. The movie borders on PG-13 territory and the game is far too difficult at times for anyone older than 10. But it is very obvious that it is intended for the younger crowd and Coraline the game has done an effective job at ensuring that a young generation of potential gamers is bored to tears before turning them off of videogames forever.

Visually, Coraline tries to capture the look of the movie, but most of the character models and environments are simply flat textures or dull and washed out too much to be mistaken for the silver screen counterpart. The entire presentation is just leftovers from the early PS2 and Xbox days. Nothing about Coraline captures your attention quite like the movie does.

The most damning thing of all is that there are stills from the movie intertwined throughout the game. Why!? Why not actually have movie clips? Instead, what the children (the only ones that will probably play it) will have to endure is a series of blurry, out of focus stills that don't do the film justice.

Going hand in hand with movie stills is the audio design. The only nice thing about the sound design (and the rest of Coraline for that matter) is that Dakota Fanning does record lines specifically for the game. Nearly every other character has been replaced with sound-a-likes and most do a terrible job. The same argument arises; why not use resources from the actual movie instead of doing an impersonation? Coraline is extremely linear through moments of the movie, so why not just use sound bites from those moments? Most of those underwhelming performances could be looked over too if not for the fact that sometimes there just isn't any background music or noise, so all that can be heard is the awful voice acting.

I know I am not the intended audience for this, but even children deserve better. If I can't even sit down and play Coraline without falling asleep, how do the developers expect a child hopped up on candy and soda to be able to sit through it?

If you haven't seen the movie yet, Coraline is about a young girl that isn't happy with her life anymore. She and her parents have moved into an old house in the middle of nowhere. One day, Coraline is bored and discovers a small door that leads to another world where everything seems to be simply better. In the other world, she has an "Other Mother" that makes her feel very special, but soon Coraline finds out that it isn't all that it seems in this other world and she has to confront her darkest fears if she wants to get back home.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, instead of getting a whimsical journey through the twisted world of Neil Gaiman (the author that wrote Coraline), there are a ton of mini-games and rudimentary puzzles that involve blocks. Even if you hadn't seen the movie before playing Coraline, you would not know what the hell is going on, because it assumes that you have seen Coraline before and skips over entire chunks of the movie.

Running around as the main character of the movie may entertain young audiences for a short while, but having to collect thousands of buttons and play too many broken mini-games won't keep them there for long. There is even a point in which the game continually crashes. I can replicate it over and over again. For any other game, this may be forgiven and fixed with an easy patch, but a kids' game needs to be able play all the way through without hassle. As soon as the child has it happen once, he will say it is broken (and it is) and Mommy will try to return it without knowing that it is how the game was made and not the disc.

Coraline is laughably short. It can easily be beaten in 3 hours and they try to cover it up with loads of extras and unlockables. I never went out of my way to find anything, but even taking my time didn't net me enough money to buy new outfits or cheat codes.

By playing all of the mini-games, you earn buttons which act like currency. You can then use the money to buy different outfits and stuff and one of things that you can buy is cheats. Some cheats let you buy out of a particular game that may be too hard; others let you skip an entire level. There are even some for infinite health, but it is probably useless since the only time I died was when I was stuck in the geometry of the level and enemies attacked while I couldn't move. So, Coraline isn't hard to play if the Story mode was the only thing offered, but some of the games you have to play are unfair and much too hard for the intended audience.

Game Mechanics:
The controls for Coraline are simple. You move Coraline around with the left stick, jump or climb with (X) and interact with various items with (Triangle). You can also attack certain enemies with (O), but the easier thing to do is to just run past them because they won't catch up. At a certain point in the adventure, Coraline will be equipped with a slingshot which is then brought out by pressing (R1).

The controls may be simple, but the execution is not. First, Coraline moves way too slow to keep anyone's interest. What's worse is that to do any action while moving, Coraline stops dead in her tracks in order to pull off said action. Jumping is useless, the only things that Coraline can actually climb on are boxes or blocks that she has to move around first before she can stand on them. The whole thing reeks of a rushed job.

I have played a lot of games in my time. I have played broken games. I have played truly awful games. I have even played games that I would be embarrassed to admit, but never in my time have I ever played a plain boring game. Games are meant to be fun, especially for kids. If there is a parent out there that is thinking about buying Coraline for their child, save 20 bucks and take them to see the movie again.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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