(Wii U)

Disney's Planes (Wii U)

Game Review

Disney's Planes Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Plane sailing or just plane bad?

Disney's Planes — the movie, not the game — was originally intended to be a straight-to-DVD spin-off of the popular Cars franchise helmed by DisneyToon Studios instead of Pixar. Presumably Disney's executives looked at the release schedule for 2013 and decided it was looking a bit barren, because the movie was re-tooled as a cinematic release and hits theatres next week. With an almost depressing degree of predictability, a bunch of video game adaptations have also touched down on Nintendo formats just as the red carpet is being unrolled, the most notable of which is arguably the Wii U version. Starved of titles lately, there will be some famished Wii U owners out there who are likely to snap up anything that's half-decent, and while Disney's Planes doesn't quite crash and burn, it's a some way off being a must-have release.

Like Cars, Planes has a central hero who longs to be a racing champ. However, unlike Cars, the lead character simply isn't designed to perform this task. Dusty is a humble crop duster and not a racing plane, and the tale therefore has a true underdog feel. Well, Dusty's does, anyway — in the game's story mode you can play as several different characters from the movie, including Rusty's main rival Ripslinger. Each plane has their own set of unique missions which take place in ten different locations — needless to say, there's a little environmental repetition, but the designers have at least given players plenty of objectives to tackle.

One mission has you channelling electricity from clouds in order to reactivate power stations on the ground, while another is like Crazy Taxi in the air. Yet another level has you shooting piles of coloured powder to prepare for the Indian festival of Diwali. All of these objectives are fairly entertaining to complete, thanks largely to the tight and highly responsive controls. The primary set-up has you using the Wii U GamePad, with the left stick influencing directional movement while the right stick performs stunts, such as 180-degree turns or sideways rolls. Other commands — such as firing a weapon or taking a snap with a camera — are mapped to the face buttons. Off-TV play is supported, which should instantly tell you that the GamePad's screen isn't used in any meaningful fashion.

The story-based missions are just one part of the complete Planes package. There's Free Flight, where you can simply explore the game's locations, and Air Rallies, a racing segment which calls to mind the underrated PlayStation title N-GEN Racing, coded by members of the original Wipeout team. There's also Balloon Popping, the appeal of which diminishes faster than we'd like. Four distinct game types sounds like quite a generous offering on paper, but the story mode is insultingly easy to complete and the trio of remaining modes aren't strong enough to stand up on their own.

It's the drop-in, drop-out co-op multiplayer which restores a bit of respectability, offering the chance for some serious entertainment alongside a fellow human being. Sadly, it's limited to just two players, with one viewing the GamePad screen while the other looks at the television and uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuk — there's no option for split-screen play, so no additional people can join in the action.

Given that a Wii version of the game also exists and is being produced by the same developer, it was almost inevitable that the Wii U edition was going to disappoint graphically — Planes looks every inch like a standard definition title which has been up-scaled to suit the Wii U's HD output. Locations are sparsely detailed and the plane models are similarly drab; the only blessing is that by keeping the detail level low, the developers have been able to maintain a steady pace. Planes moves smoothly for the most part, although it can chug during the racing sections when there's a lot of on-screen activity. As if to illustrate the game's lack of commitment to the Wii U's increased power, the loading screens — which feature character artwork — are so horribly pixelated you'll want to look away when they appear.

On the upside, the music is suitably rousing, and is presumably lifted from the movie itself (we haven't seen it yet, so can't say categorically). Disney has even been able to rope in some of the principal voice cast to lend their talents to their individual characters, but it's blatantly obvious that some of the other actors didn't play ball, as their voices are replaced by sound-alike substitutes. This wouldn't be an issue in itself, but during the missions you'll hear the same dialogue over and over and over again. By the tenth time you've heard Bulldog brag about his stiff upper lip, it will be painfully obvious that John Cleese wasn't involved in the recording of the speech for the game.


In many respects, Disney's Planes just about manages to pull out of the nosedive which seems to curse so many movie-to-game adaptations; it controls well enough, has some varied mission objectives and comes with four main modes instead of just one. However, the simplistic visuals, lack of challenge and limited multiplayer options all count against it — these are issues that could and should have been fixed before release, and would have resulted in a much better package overall. Planes isn't a terrible game by any means, but it's hardly spectacular — and irrespective of how hungry you are for Wii U software, it might not fill you up unless you're a novice player with a passionate love for the movie itself.

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User Comments (50)



Peach64 said:

I can't imagine who they think will be buying this. Surely most Wii U owners at this point are pretty hardcore Nintendo fans, not the sort that buy tie ins to kids movies.



chiptoon said:

I actually am surprised. Doesn't sound terrible, not that I have any intention of getting it. "unless you're a novice player with a passionate love for the movie itself" - honestly, who else is this for other than granny's that have no idea what to get Timmy for Christmas.



MAB said:

Disney movies/games are really losing that magic since the CGI era took hold. They made awesome stuff on weaker hardware back in the day... Just a shadow of their former selves now




darkev9001 said:

i saw a game about flying: ...
saw it was a movie tie-in: D:
i saw the overall results, no dogfights (as far as i can see from looking at the review), and poor graphics and thought: -_-



animalzer0 said:

Game designers and developers should be given more time (maybe at least 2 years) to develop movie game..



Quickman said:

It's a shame that there's no link up with Nintendo as they would work wonders with a bunch of Disney titles..



Fortified said:

At least movie tie-ins these days are better than that E.T. game on the Atari. shudder



GiftedGimp said:

Its a film tie-in aimed at children. Thing is young Children don't judge games on a technical side of things. They Play a game, if the like it its good, if not its bad. Developers/Publishers know this and add in the movie tie-in aspect then again a child will simply want the game because they liked the film or even a advert for the film. Again something the developers/publishers know.
It's a big shame that it seems from the review the devs did s Wii-WiiU copy and paste job but there's little doubt my children (almost 4 and 6 years old) would want this game and its probably about as good as this sort of kids-game of the film is gonna get for the most part.



GiftedGimp said:

@Peach64 said:
"I can't imagine who they think will be buying this. Surely most Wii U owners at this point are pretty hardcore Nintendo fans, not the sort that buy tie ins to kids movies."
Here's a thought... maybe WiiU owners are not ALL hardcore Nintendo fans, and regardless of of how hardcore a Nintendo fan someone is maybe... wait for it.... they have Children. shock



Captain_Gonru said:

@Microwaveable1 @animalzer0 Exactly. Why do the Marvel franchise tie-in games feel so rushed, when the movies are known to be in development for years beforehand? Even if you don't want any spoilers leaked, basic things like character models and game mechanics can be developed and tweaked with little more than a working knowledge of the subject matter and some pre-production concept art.
And by the way, the Atari E.T. game, while hardly great, was decent considering how little time was allowed for it's creation.



Hale-Bopp said:

The 3DS version is a full priced retail game as well. I wonder how that one compares.



Jukilum said:

"Presumably Disney's executives looked at the release schedule for 2013 and decided it was looking a bit barren, because the movie was re-tooled as a cinematic release and hits theatres next week."

It's a possibility, but I doubt that was the reason. For the last few years Disney has put out two animated films per year: a Pixar film in the summer and a Disney animated film around Thanksgiving. This seems like an extra movie to me.



Hetsumani said:

@Microwaveable1 No, they are not. E.T. was a fairly good game, the problem with it was that it wasn't a "straight forward grab the controller and shoot game", you had to read the manual to know what to do, and let's face it, kids then and now don't read manuals, in today's games that would be solved by adding a tutorial but in that time there wasn't enough space to add it.



ajcismo said:

The trailers for the movie look horrible. A 6/10 is probably a better score than what the movie will get.



FritzFrapp said:

Stuff the game. I'm more concerned with the sequelitis that Pixar has developed under Disney's ownership. Truly heartbreaking. We have enough of that **** in the videogame world. What's wrong with one-offs?



TheAdrock said:

Having read your review I didn't expect 6/10. Seem higher than it deserves (again, just from what I read).



atlantis01 said:

I actually don't mind the look of this game. It reminds me a bit of Diddy Kong racing. I might pick it up.



DualWielding said:

I remember back at the E3 Nintendo direct where this game was included among the montage of third party titles coming to the Wii U, I thought including a shovelware movie tie in the montage looked pathetic and show that they were really reaching in order to find third party games to include...



dumedum said:

6/10 isn't bad for a movie tie in. It seems like it could be a fun game, shallow as the movie, but fun.



Punkwillie said:

I don't play missions once I qualify, it's fun just to fly around. The game has a nice flying feel to it, but what do I know. I drink old kool-aid!



FriedSquid said:

I like how EVERYTIME there is a movie game, it gets a bad review, and people immediately bash it. But then, when a movie game comes out and it gets a pretty okay score, still everyone bashes and complains and whines about how there is NEVER a good movie game. First of all, what do you expect? That a fantastic 10/10 movie game will come out on a silver platter? I hope some of you realize that a lot of movie games that are made are from animated movies, and just about every animated movie is geared towards children. And, as we know, children love video games! So why would they waste their money and resources on an adaption of the movie, when most kids, who will beg their parents to get in Walmart, simply don't know the difference of a bad game. Not to mention, it's hard to sell a game version of a movie away from the release date of the movie. They're not going to spend and waste money on years and years developing a game adaption of a movie, because they're busy working on the movie. That's why you get rushed, cheap movie games close to the release of the movie, and not too late after it. Basically, it's not worth it to make a good game out of a children's movie, not to say that it can't, but it doesn't.

And second, why does everyone complain so much in the first place? Why do you actually want a good movie game made from Planes, which is already Disney milking an already prosperous franchise.



Marioman64 said:

huh, this actually sounds pretty good. i may need to pick this up. i love flight games because of the third dimension of movement and this looks decent enough to be enjoyable, especially with the multiplayer drop-in and out, my little brother will love this as well



vaguerant said:

The game does seem all right (and not any more than all right). For those interested in something similar, you might want to try MySims SkyHeroes on Wii/PS3/360. Planes actually seems to have been built from that game: Behaviour Interactive was behind both.

SkyHeroes has less variety in its missions--they're basically all racing or combat--but it has a more appealing license than "the crap non-Pixar Pixar movie" and even (up to) ten-player online dogfights. It's a little less child-friendly, sure, but it's a fun game.



daveh30 said:

I downloaded this for my almost 4 year old, and he loves it. It might not be something I'd sit down and play by myself, bit fits that kinda rare bill for a game thats simple enough for a 4 year old to enjoy, but engaging enough for some father / son multiplayer.



ShortSleevedNook said:

@animalzer0: That's what they did with GoldenEye and it became a console best-seller for N64! I think they should have the dev. team work possibly directly with the production crew to get the best out of the license, and still get a good 2 or more years of development time. In some ways, however, I think I might be fine with all of these crappy movie games. Less games that I have to buy! I mean, combine 3DS and Wii U and there goes all of my games money for the next 2 years...



Nintendo4Sonic said:

I have this game since it launched. I'm a grown up and I don't know why, but i'm a fan of Cars, as well as Disney/Pixar at all. It doesn't mean i like everything they do, but i got interested in Planes. I even saw the movie a few days ago, it was great. Not a cheap Cars clone, it's very good.

To the game: It's fun and i can recommend it to those, who think it's something for them.
The review here is pretty fair. I wouldn't give 9 stars as well. But I'm no novice player and still i have fun, playing it. But i would recommend watching the movie, so you get a feeling for the nice characters.
I like the way, the game is using the gamepad.
You can control the whole game over motion sensor, which works surprisingly well and makes it a bit harder. The racing missions are much fun to play, but the free flight missions are pretty easy. Graphics are ok, could look better, could look worse. Nice character models and good draw distance meets a few simple textures.

So, if you like the movie as well as flight games, give it a try. It's no hit game, but could likely expand your Nintendo collection.



Pac-Fan said:


Hell no.While there were awful movies like aladdin 2,aladdin 3,And every other straight to dvd release of a sequel.But wreck it ralph,toy story 3,were both great movies.Disney still makes good stuff.Gravity-Falls,happens to be the best cartoon currently on disney,and better than most of nickelodeon's and cartoon-network's current offerings.

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