Not only is Stuart Little 2 game (SL2) based on the sequel to the wonderful original movie about a mouse adopted into a human family, but the game is also an uninspired sequel to about every platform game ever made. While SL2 has plenty of jumping action and kid-friendly features, it lacks anything to draw gamers above age 12. For the younger crowd, however, it does include thoughtful features that’ll help them tackle a fully 3D platform game.
Gamers control Stuart as he quests to defeat the bad guy falcon by collecting jeweled rings and other items that can be traded or used to get more jeweled rings. Jeweled rings unlock more of the 7 total levels; other items open clips of the Stuart Little 2 movie. Stuart jumps, double jumps, climbs, crawls, swings, throws from a first person perspective, and – yes indeed – tail spins. An adjustable camera control does its job, but it isn’t able to manually move the perspective above or below Stuart, leading to some frustration if the player wants to see just where a fall will take them. Like other recent games, SL2 follows what appears to be a trend of including unlockable clips from the movie.
The seven levels comprise different areas loosely tied into the movie. A lot of the Stuart Little character’s charm involves how he deals with the imposing obstacles the human world presents to a mouse of his size. Unfortunately, SL2 does little with this idea. It would have been more exciting had obstacles such as driving around the collective walking feet of a busy city sidewalk or obstacles such as cracks in the floor that could cause a careless Stuart to fall. Instead, Stuart’s biggest enemies are endlessly reappearing bugs, and the obstacles are little more than platforms to jump, climb, or slide across. Even the 12 mini-games that feature Stuart in a plane, on a skateboard, in a boat, etc. fail to offer any compelling take on Stuart’s role as a small mouse in a big world.
Blocky graphics and a lack of object detail also keep SL2 underfoot of better platform games like Spyro. The worst feature is when distant walls dissolve into large ugly blocks of solid color when receding into the distance, causing me flashbacks to the 1980’s days of Intellivision. The music, however, is quite lively and fun. Margalo the canary and particularly Stuart himself have good-natured voice overs.
SL2 developer Magenta Software did design the game to be kid-friendly. SL2 begins with a fully-voiced tutorial for all of Stuart’s moves, helpful to children who are still learning to read. Later at various points in levels, Margalo will fly down to show the player where all the hard-to-reach items in an area can be found. Most mini-games sport such simple control schemes that even the youngest members of the family can succeed – indeed, Gaming Illustrated’s child laborers reported that they liked the mini-games best. All this adds up to about 6 hours of game play for a platform veteran to completely beat the game. Young children still learning vital dual shock management skills will likely find the difficulty right at their level.
FINAL SCORE: 54%