Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (PS2/Xbox/GCN)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
PS2/Xbox/GCN (2005)

As children, my sister and I probably watched the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie at least once a week. My parents were the first people on the block to purchase a VCR (back in the late 70s, when they cost around $1000). Willy Wonka was one of the first VHS movies we ever owned, and over the years my sister and I literally wore the tape out from watching it so many times.

People have picked apart poor Wonka over the years, citing problems with the annoying child actors or the cheesy special effects. To me though, THAT movie is the Chocolate Factory I know and love. I know that with 35 years of technology we can make a graphically better Wonkaland, full of CGI and other dazzling special effects, but that stuff by itself doesnt make it a better film.

And so follows Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the new platform game for multiple consoles. Its flashy, its got great graphics and the presentation will blow you away. Unfortunately when you get down to the game play, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about as smart as the four brats who meet their untimely demise in Wonkas factory. Despite all the technological advances, the game simply doesnt play as well as the 2D platformers of yesteryear.

The game starts off well enough. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory follows the popular trend of forcing you to play through an in-game tutorial. Youll learn the ins and outs of controlling Charlie by making his poor ass chase money up and down the streets of Poorville (or wherever he supposedly lives). After a brief downhill race, which while fun proves ultimately pointless, youll arrive in Wonkas abandoned plant. In the game, it will be your job to find Oompa Loompas, assign them jobs, and group them together to complete tasks. While reading this description, I immediately thought to myself, theyre not Oompa Loompas theyre Oompa LEMMINGS! While the idea is definitely the same, the implementation is much worse. Half the time you cant get the Oompa Loompas to do what you want. Believe me, there were many times I wish Charlie could punch, kick, or pick up weapons and go all GTA on some Oompa Loompa ass. How on earth any chocolate ever got made before Charlie showed up is beyond me.

Ultimately, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory suffers from the same problems that all other semi-good 3D platform games suffer from; camera and control issues. I feel like a broken record here, whining about difficult to complete jumps and cameras getting stuck behind walls. The game is stunningly beautiful and colorful, but you really wont give a toot when the camera is hiding Charlie and an Oompa Loompa is stuck halfway in and out of the chocolate river. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great game stuck in the wrong engine. Without the glaring technical glitches, the game stood a good chance at being a golden ticket among this summers sea of Wonka bars. As it stands, this game is sadder than Mike TV in a power outage. Expect kids to get bored and adults to get frustrated long before you reach the end.

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