Disney’s Bolt (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 9.00
Gameplay: 7.50
Replays: 1.00
Gamelength: 7.00

Dash and bark your way through the latest Disney story in “Disney’s Bolt” for the Xbox 360.

No one’s ever going to stop Disney from making movies, but who’s complaining? Certainly not for me, that’s for sure! Bolt is a lovable dog with super powers who partners up with Penny, a young girl on a mission to save her dad. The pair handle their business in good ol’ Disney fashion and likewise, the movie is hilarious, action packed and of course, family friendly. For those of you who have seen the movie, perhaps you or someone you know is looking to get more of Bolt and Penny, but you’re skeptical because most games based on Disney movies are, in a word, terrible. Well, I have great new for you! Disney games are getting better and this game is most certainly a piece of proof to back that claim! Prepare to live the latest Disney experience in a whole new way with “Disney’s Bolt” for the Xbox 360.

One thing Disney always seems to get right is the visual presentation of each and every game they throw out. It’s not really any surprise, given the popular CG movie format they seem to delve more and more into with each passing year. They have some of the best CG artists in the world and it surely shows. Every character is recreated on the Xbox 360 in perfect detail. Not a single minor detail is missed in any of the many levels. Bolt’s super powers look nice, but not over the top or intrusive. The one thing that really impressed me, though, is the lighting and textures. While this game isn’t going to compete for best graphics of 2008 by a long shot, every detail jumps out at you. My only real complaint is the terrible quality of things such as fire effects in a few instances here and there. Honestly though, this is likely the most visually impressive Disney game to date.

Just like with the visual presentation, Disney always nails it with the sound quality as well. As such, I’m happy to say that this game does not fail to meet those high quality standards. The music fits each scene perfectly, character voices are A-grade, sound effects are very clear and the small amount of ambient noise does the trick every time. This is not the kind of game that merits the purchase of the soundtrack or anything, but players all over will definitely take note of the obvious care put into the sound of this game.

With the graphics and sound out of the way, all that’s left is the final piece of the puzzle: Gameplay; where Disney usually fails at every stop. However, prepare for a worthwhile experience. There haven’t been very many times that any gamer could honestly say those words about a Disney game, so enjoy it while it lasts and hope it’s a sign of good things to come. Before I dive into the game, I want to point out that seeing the movie is not a requirement to play this game. It’s also worth noting that the suspense and story of the movie will be completely spoiled if you play the game before the movie. Take that into consideration before purchasing your movie ticket or this game, although they’re still great even after having experienced them both. The controls are extremely simple, but there are several things to remember, which may create trouble for some very young gamers. Every command is simply mapped to it’s own button. For example, the left trigger is used as Bolt to unleash the sonic bark, which the right trigger is used for invulnerability. As usual, the left joystick controls the character movement, which is extremely fluid and tight. There’s no difficulty setting and there aren’t even really any options to play around with, so upon loading up the game, the only real thing you can do is jump right in and start playing. The game first places you into the shoes of Penny. As Penny, you’ll primarily be sneaking around, scaling structures and killing bad guys the stealthy way whenever possible. Penny isn’t very good at combat, but the game compensates for that by allowing players to partake in minigame-like button sequences to instantly kill just about anything. Those button sequences are rather common and are extremely easy to pull off. There’s no penalty for hitting the wrong buttons and you’re given 3+ seconds every time a new button pops up. Because of that, the game is excessively easy as Penny to the point of boredom at times. On the other side, however, you’ll frequently switch between the two characters and when the game switches to Bolt, the pace picks up and the game becomes far more enjoyable. As Bolt, the game is more combat oriented to the point that enemies are thrown at you almost nonstop. Walk along the linear path, kill a bunch of enemies, use a power to move to the next part and repeat the process until the game switches back to Penny. While this may sound boring and repetitious, it’s not really all that bad. Repetitious as it may be, the combat is most certainly fun. After all, where else can you get to play as a speedy super dog that shoots lasers out of it’s eyes? Oh, and did I mention the Supercharge mode? After you’ve beat up enough bad guys with random combo attacks, your combo circle fills up and when it does, all you have to do is click in both of the joysticks to turn on Supercharge mode for about 10 seconds. In Supercharge mode, all of Bolt’s abilities are enhanced, which includes an absolutely ridiculous display of lasers all over the place and a massively destructive super sonic bark attack that’s capable of destroying much larger structures. Aside from the linear levels and the nonstop combat, Bolt also fights most of the bosses. To give you an example, but without spoiling anything important, Bolt fights a helicopter in the tutorial level and simply flings a missile back at it, which brings it down instantly and ends the level. All told, “Disney’s Bolt” is an extremely fun game, but it’s a bit short-lived. There’s no reason to ever replay this game after the 6-8 hour journey and there’s not really anything extra worth going back for, unless you really want all of those extra health and power upgrades, which aren’t even close to necessary. If you’re in the market for some easy achievements, I suppose there’s a little bit more replay value involved, but not all that much. At any rate, it’s a damn good game for what it is.

Overall, for a game based on a Disney movie, this is an amazing title. Had there been a co-op mode, some sort of online play, unlockables or even difficulty settings, this could have been an easy buy for most casual gamers. Still, I think Disney is listening and learning! It’s progress!

Pros:
-Amazing sound quality.
-Visual presentation is great.
-Easy enough for younger gamers to play.
-Extremely simple and efficient control scheme.

Cons:
-No replay value at all.
-No difficulty settings.
-Framerate issues pop up from time to time, but not too often.
-Not long enough.
-A bit too expensive for what you get.

Bottom Line:
If you like the concept, have no way of renting the game and have the cash, this game might be worth buying, but be sure to check out a demo if possible before jumping right into it. Otherwise, I highly recommend this as a rental to just about everyone.

Overall Rating: 7.50

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