(Wii U)

Game Review

Ben 10: Omniverse Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Hangin' with the Plumbers

Is it just us or has Wii U already amassed a swath of licensed beat-em-ups in the three months since its November launch? It seems like there's no shortage of ways to punch and/or slice hordes of bad things, between the reasonably OK Transformers Prime and the why-oh-why of Rise of the Guardians, so forgive us if the thought of yet another didn't send our digits into anticipation twitch-fits. Nintendo Life is all about occasionally taking one for the team in our quest to cover the world of interactive entertainment software, though, so we plopped down and popped in Ben 10: Omniverse for some more animated bam-thwockery.

In case you aren't familiar with the Cartoon Network show, teenager Ben Tennyson is a kid in possession of the Omnitrix, a watch-like device that allows him to transform into a whole bunch of aliens each with their own powers and skills. Ben's ever-present co-op partner, Rook, a new member of alien law enforcement agency the Plumbers, somehow winds up slipping back in time and losing an important piece of technology to supervillain Malware, which does some terrible things to the timeline that the duo have to thwart in both periods.

No matter the time period, the game plays just the same. Players march dutifully between enemy encounters and beat the snot out of them either alone or with a drop-in co-op buddy, transforming into assorted aliens new and old to do so. The aliens are Omniverse's saving grace: combat sticks with the same basic button-mashing throughout, and without their variety in abilities the game would bore to tears by the end of stage two. The back of the box advertises 16 playable heroes, which is mathematically accurate but not without a caveat or two, as that includes two identical Bens as well as Rook, who can only be controlled by a co-op partner.

That leaves 13 aliens in Ben's arsenal to unlock, fight with and gain new attacks and special abilities. While not all aliens offer vastly different approaches to the same formulaic encounters — some feel like they're strictly there for switch-pulling "puzzles" — many do include their own built-in strategies, and there's a handful who get some extra attention in regards to enemy encounters. Feedback, for instance, is able to absorb an electric charge and then blast it at baddies, so having a stage with lots of electric foes gives him an opportunity to fight in a way the rest of the cast can't. Other aliens have strengths and weaknesses against certain enemy types, but they're seldom significant enough to stop players from sticking with the ones they find look the coolest.

(Pro tip: it's Shocksquatch.)

Monkey Bar Games has done an admirable job of creating a world that captures the show's look and feel, but we really wish they had created more of it. The writing and voice acting suit the show, and no matter how crisp and agreeable the cel-shaded art style is, there's an awful lot of repetition in how stages look. Nor are they particularly varied, mostly interested in funneling you forward to the next big room to fight a bunch of enemies.

We also wish that the rest of the technical side of things nailed it like the art style does. Character animation is flimsy and the sound has a tendency to glitch out — on more than one occasion we thought our console was about to explode. And despite the box advertising compatibility with all sorts of inputs, Player 1 has no choice but to play with the GamePad, even if you'd prefer the Wii Remote + Nunchuck or an alternative dual-analogue controller. Outside of off-screen play, the GamePad isn't used for anything of importance, so this limitation doesn't really make sense. Player 2 has their pick of the litter, though.

Conclusion

Ben 10: Omniverse falls into a lot of the same traps that lesser games in this genre do — lots of repetitive button-mashing gameplay, uninspired level design and clunky controls. Through the license's inherent variety it somehow manages to stave off crushing boredom for a bit longer than we anticipated, but eventually does succumb to it — tolerance may vary depending on how interesting you find the franchise. Younger Ben 10 fans may still spot a lot of where the game goes wrong, but as Omniverse manages to get enough right with the fiction it likely won't matter in the end.

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User Comments (18)

cornishlee

#2

cornishlee said:

That's what this is? I assumed from the title it was some kind of low-budget minigame collection! Oh well...

EDIT: "In case you aren't familiar with the Cartoon Network show, " Ah, OK, no, I wasn't.

Banker-Style

#3

Banker-Style said:

I love how Ben 10 started out with 10 Aliens that Ben could transform into,and now there's god know how many.

Nibelilt

#4

Nibelilt said:

I really hated Ben 10 after the original series and looking back even that was just okay.

mch

#5

mch said:

I had no idea that this game was coming ..nor what it is about o_O

MrWalkieTalkie

#6

MrWalkieTalkie said:

I still don't understand why they insist on putting "10" in the title of the show when there's like what, 200 now?

NImH

#8

NImH said:

@Jon Wahlgren, poor guy... Doing the dirty work and protecting the people from playing bad games out of ignorance.
I miss the retro reviews that would pop up every once in a while.

TheAdza

#9

TheAdza said:

I love the show, well, maybe not omniverse so much, but the original, and alien force and ultimate alien were much more than the sum of its parts (a genius merchandising toy advert )

It's a shame there hasn't been any great games based on the series of shows. It has great source material. But as always, the translation of a licenced tv/movie property to video game format fails.

I don't know what it would take to change this. Some better devs or more money put into games like this to make them not such a cheap money grabbing experience for all involved.

LordessMeep

#10

LordessMeep said:

My younger brother and I used to be huge fans of the first season, but then I lost touch and he turned eleven. Not entirely surprised at the score, though. Also, couldn't have put it better than @TheAdza up there. It surprises me how good TV shows rarely have good games.

mantez

#13

mantez said:

I played the PS3 version with my sons and I thought it wasn't bad and we enjoyed it. If it's the same game which I am assuming it is. I would give it at least a 5. Basically if you like the show, there is a good chance you will find the game to be alright.

Neram

#15

Neram said:

I really hope we see a day where licensed games simply cease to exist. All they do is degrade the quality and perception of the overall platform they're on.

Platypus

#16

Platypus said:

I disagree, sometimes licenses make the games better. If you have a good developer making the game and put time into it. The game could be great. I don't think Batman: Arkham City would be the same without Batman.

Matillion

#17

Matillion said:

Wow, looks like...BEN DROWNED.
AHAHAHA! Ain't I funny? I should be a stand-up comedian.

I used to watch the original show, now it's all mediocre.

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