The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (Hands-On Preview)

The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Publisher: THQ
Genre: 3D Beat ’em Up
Available on: PS2, GCN, Xbox
Release Date: 11/1/05

THQ recently sent me a Xbox Review Build of the new Incredibles game coming out in early October. I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of the movie, finding it merely average, and that 3D Action/Adventure games aren’t my usual cup of tea. But my motto is “If they send it to me, I p/review it!” And I am very happy to say that this game surprised me with how good it actually is.

I played through the first four or five levels of the game, but then encountered a snag I hope only occurs with the preview build, which is if you leave the game paused for too long, it resets the whole game on you. Nothing like going to the loo and coming back seeing your hard work lost.

Thankfully that’s the only real quibble I have with Rise of the Underminer.

This particular Incredibles game begins as the movie ends, with a strange new villain named the Underminer appearing and wrecking having on Metroville. However instead of playing with the entire Incredibles clan, the game features only one member of that family: Mr. Incredible. But not to worry, fan favorite Frozone is along for the ride as well.

Rise of the Underminer is labeled a 3D action adventure game by the THQ press release I have, but it plays more like a 3D version of classic beat em up games like Double Dragon, Final Fight, and the X-Men Arcade Game The entire game is mindless beat ’em up action. And it’s amazingly fun and addictive. The entire game is two player simultaneous smashing of robots. That’s it. The entire game capped off in a single sentence. But yes, like I said, it’s amazingly fun and entertaining.

A lot of the fun comes from the non stop running dialogue of the three main characters: Frozone, Mr. Incredible, and the Underminer. One lines and witty banter never stop flying throughout this game. Some are cheesy text book super heroic dialogue, but there’s some very funny stuff in here. Especially from the Underminer.

Gameplay involves either you or a friend or you and a computer controlled partner saving the city from the Underminer’s seemingly limitless horde of robots with sharp things that like to go through soft things that scream and bleed. You’ve got a jump button, an attack button, and a “grab and huck” button. You can also perform a super “kill everything on the screen” move which again reminds me of things like TMNT: The Arcade Game or Captain America & the Avengers. However you’ll almost never need to use the Super Move, as the game is very easy and you’re rarely get hit by the computer controlled opponents. Well, you won’t. The computer controlled partner you have will get hit a lot as his AI is awful. Remember though, this game is geared for ages 6-12, so one can’t be too terribly surprised by the lack of difficulty.

A really nice thing about the game is that you can switch back and forth between Mr. Incredible and Frozone in single player mode. You can even switch characters in two player mode which is neat and allows for some silly fun between friends.

There’s a small RPG aspect to the game, where you earn experience points by defeating enemies. After so many points you can buy upgrades for your characters like a larger health bar, more damage to enemies, faster freeze times, and so on. However, the game does seem to give out way too much experience, as you will be completely maxed out before you’ve finished the third level.

There’s some gallery bits that you can unlock by collecting one or two canisters a level, however viewing the gallery was not available on the Preview Build, so I can’t describe that to you all. I’m guessing it’s just design art.

Graphically, Rise of the Underminer looks amazing. The game looks like Pixar themselves designed the game. The backgrounds are vibrant and detailed. The robots are uninspired design wise, but well animated. There’s little to no slowdown, which is rare for a beat ’em up, That impressed me far more than the actual visual stimulation the game provides.

I’m very interested in seeing how the end product looks when it hits stores in a month.

Overall, I think Heavy Iron Studios has themselves a winner. The controls are tight, the game looks good and it sounds even better. And most of all, it’s a lot more fun than I ever would have expected from this license. Rise of the Underminer hits stores on Nov 1st and retails for $39.99.