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*A review of Disney's The Emperor's New Groove for PlayStation.*
I've not seen the film but from the video clips featured, the game appears to stick to the film fairly closely, starting out in the village where Kuzco is discovered by good guy Pacha, then following the journey in which the Emperor seeks to find a way back to his palace.
Disney's The Emperor's New Groove is said to also feature songs from the film, but the South American style music here is bland and for sure takes a back seat to the action. The only sting found in the game comes from that of the scorpion enemies which appear on some of the stages (!). The voice cast from the film is present however, and the humour - in particular the self-referential - is well-realised though the voice samples for Kuzco's actions can grate after a while.
Graphically, the level of detail in this game is decent - somewhat bringing the surroundings to life are the likes of birds and bunnies, and the lighting effects are alright but the draw distance isn't great, and you can count the number of colours used in the background on a single hand. Some NPCs don't open their mouths when they speak, and there is room for improvement in the camera as the views can often hinder the platforming.
Fortunately, should Kuzco fall into nothingness then he only suffers a single hit so the game is made to be forgiving - which is not surprising considering the assumed target audience - but without being too generous as it not possible to rack up a ridiculous number of lives. The first couple of levels ease the player into the game, and despite Kuzco's movements being ever-so-slightly sluggish, the controls are fine. Combat is okay - Kuzco does not pick up on new moves throughout and the collision detection is far from spot-on.
Puzzles tend to be simple, but while some are well-designed, it's a shame that the game is not able to capitilise on the periods where Kuzco transforms into other creatures, such is the linearity of the game. The game is not all platforms and puzzles though, as there are a couple of levels crafted from certain situations, such as Kuzco and Pacha being tied to a log heading downstream in a river, and the pair riding on a runaway roller coaster. The latter certainly has it's highs, as players will have to get their heads around continuous reversal of controls.
Kuzco even finds himself on the run at one point - yielding a stage where player must rapidly tap the buttons to safety! This is not the only moment where Kuzco gets to stretch his legs, as the Emperor has to occasionally chase down a brat in order to progress. Along the way to the Palace there are some passable stealthy sections, as well as a few boss fights, though these were nothing special. For me, The Emperor's New Groove peaked near the middle - I thought the manner in which the game concluded was as anticlimatic as it was disappointing.
I feel Disney's The Emperor's New Groove is perhaps best suited to the 10-14 year old age group - the chase is quite demanding and the roller coaster levels are tricky. The 30 chapters in which the game is split into will take a couple of days play to overcome. Replay value is alright - for each level collection of all coins unlocks artwork from the film for viewing, though the one-way nature of some of these stages will require numerous attempts. The Emperor's New Groove is not a terribly expansive platformer, but it's a solid enough game, and one which delivers when it comes to the jokes.