Review: Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue (3DS)

Making a splash or a drop in the ocean?

Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue's re-release would seem a little odd were it not for the fact that Finding Nemo is currently enjoying a second run at UK cinemas due to the wonders of 3D technology. Disney has clearly seen a good opportunity to improve its rate of return on the game — which was originally released on the DS back in 2006 — by also giving it the 3D treatment. The end result is unfortunately a tad shallow (no pun intended), but still entertaining enough for younger players that may have missed the original release.

Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue is essentially a mini-game compilation that is loosely based on the events of the film. Throughout the story mode, you control a number of different fish, and are tasked with completing three to four mini-games with each one. There's no real narrative during this mode so to speak; it's just an excuse to shoehorn in some 3D clips from the film.

For the most part, each character's selection of challenges differs quite drastically, with the exception of the first mini-game. In this particular activity, your goal is live up to the title of the game and make it to the sea. This mini-game has a Super Monkey Ball vibe to it as you have to roll your fish (which is conveniently inside a bag of water) along the floor, avoiding enemies and hazards along the way. The fact that you have to play more or less the same mini-game each time isn't necessarily a bad thing; the problem is that there's very little variation between each one. The overall concept for the Escape stages is sound, but it would have greatly benefited from being more challenging and having more diverse stages.

When it comes to the other mini-games on offer, it's something of a mixed bag. Activities such as Hide-and-Seek are pretty standard, and it's likely you won't play it more than a couple of times. On the other hand, some of the other mini-games like Seagull Attack are unexpectedly challenging. For example, the latter game plays very much like a Star Fox title, and you have to constantly dodge enemies while trying to collect as many shells as possible. It's fast and when there's a few enemies on-screen, it's actually quite difficult to not get hit. Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue is a title that is clearly aimed at younger audiences, but it's nice that it does provide a decent challenge in places.

In terms of actual length, the game really isn't that long and once you've done all the mini-games, there's a score attack mode to keep you busy. How long you keep playing really depends on this; there aren't any difficulty or setting variants within any of the mini-games, so after a while it does start to feel repetitive. In many ways, it would have made more sense for the developers to focus on creating fewer mini-games, but adding more depth to the really successful ones.

The game contains an interactive reef feature, where you can use all the shells you've collected during the story mode to make your own reef or aquarium. It's a fun little extra mode that's likely to entertain and motivate younger players to keep trying. Arranging your tank or reef is a tad fiddly, but thankfully the tutorial at the start does provide an in-depth explanation.

On the technical side of things, Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue has undergone something of a facelift since it first appeared on the DS. The character models are smoother and the resolution is vastly improved. When it comes to the game environments, however, there's a distinct lack of detail, and often static images are lazily used for the backgrounds. In fact, it's really quite disappointing just how underwhelming many of the settings look, given how vibrant and colourful the film is.

Conclusion

Although it's somewhat lacking in the visuals department, Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue is still a reasonably entertaining game for less demanding players. Some of the mini-games are passable and it's a shame that more depth wasn't added to the title during its transition from DS to 3DS, but younger gamers will enjoy the selection of challenges that it has on offer. If you're really into your party games, then Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue may entertain you with its slightly tougher mini-games, but it goes without saying that there are much better titles in the 3DS library to choose from.