Review: Rise of The Guardians: The Video Game (3DS)

A bad game gets an even worse port

When it comes to a portable version of a recent console game, there are two approaches developers can take. The first is to create a brand new experience, independent from the original. The Sonic Colours team did this, and we're glad they did; instead of one great game we got two, and the portable version was designed specifically to take advantage of what was, technically speaking, a more limited platform.

The other approach is to scale down the original game for portability. That's the approach taken, for instance, by Rayman Origins, and depending upon the quality of the port, that's not such a bad idea either. Doing this allows your game to reach a wider audience, in this case folks that owned a 3DS but not a Wii. There are pros and cons to either approach, and it's always interesting to see what developers decide to do.

The 3DS version of Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game went with the second option, which is a shame because the Wii U original was pretty bad to begin with, and scaling it down from there is not an appealing prospect.

If you'd like to know how Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game plays, please consult the aforementioned review of the WiiU version, as it's pretty much identical in that regard. However, the 3DS version seems dead set on stripping away even the littlest things we liked about that game, making sure we're left with nothing we might accidentally enjoy.

For starters, we had nice things to say about the construction-paper style cut scenes. They were artistically interesting and actually quite lovely, in a simplistic way. Here they are replaced, puzzlingly, with still images. They retain the visual style of the console version, but they're a lot less impressive when they aren't animated. It's especially disappointing that the developers didn't bother to flesh these out, because it's not as though the 3DS would have any trouble rending the movement of simple, flat geometrical shapes. The voice acting is also missing, though that's much less of a disappointment.

We also had positive things to say about the fact that the map was always visible on the Wii U Gamepad, making it easier to find way-points and collectibles. Again, this should translate perfectly well to the 3DS with its dual screens, but it's impossible to tie the map to one of the screens while you play on the other. It's either viewing the map or playing the game — and there's absolutely no excuse for that, given the nature of the platform.

So there go the only nice things we were able to say about the Wii U version, but the 3DS port isn't done yet — not by a long chalk.

This version does, of course, implement 3D, but it's never used to any real effect — especially since the graphics look absolutely wretched. The 3DS is capable of far more than the blotchy messes of scrambled pixels that pass as character art in this game, and the environments look as though nobody even bothered to properly render them.

There's also the major issue of lag, as squaring off against almost any number of enemies — and you will square of against loads of enemies in this game — cause the game to slow to an almost unplayable crawl. This would be almost understandable if there were still five player characters battling it out on the screen, but in this version there's only one. That means no multiplayer, and it also means you'll always be slapping around hordes of repetitive enemies alone, which makes it take five times as long for the battles to end. Or maybe longer, if you take the lag into account.

The icing on the cake is the fact that the game comes to a literal stop whenever it wants to teach you a new move, inform you of an unlocked achievement, or congratulate you for finding a pickup. Again, there's no excuse for this as the Wii U version simply displayed it as an overlaid message as the action continued, and the 3DS has a second screen that should be able to display this information without making you stop. It's a regular annoyance, and it'll haunt you throughout the entire game.

Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game was bad enough. Or at least we thought it was bad enough. The developers felt it could get a little worse, and took the time with the 3DS version to prove their hypothesis. Now let's just all agree on its awfulness and get on with our lives, lest we get a DSiWare port designed to show us just how much worse it can still get.


The 3DS version of Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game manages the admittedly impressive feat of being even worse than its brainless console sibling. Essentially the same game made uglier, more cumbersome and laggy, there's absolutely nothing defensible about this one. If you absolutely must own a copy of this game, the Wii U version is the way to go. Don't put your 3DS through the shame of running this garbage.

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