Ben 10 is a new 3D platforming brawler from Outright Games which is inspired by the latest series of the cartoon which is currently airing on Cartoon Network. In the game, you play as Ben and all ten of his alien transformations in an adventure to save the galaxy against three of his biggest enemies, Zombozo, Queen Bee and the Weatherheads. Outright Games focus on creating family-friendly games which all the family can enjoy and play together, because of this I will add the thoughts as a child and a 33-year-old at the end of the review.
The game opens up with very little story, Ben is placed in a mini tutorial area which is where you learn how to perform simple actions and how to transform to use your alien’s abilities. Shortly after, Ben begins to fight with his cousin Gwen and sets his grandfather Max’s, tent on fire. This introduces us to the humour and relationship the characters have with each other. Ben is very outgoing and fun, Gwen is sarcastic and loves to annoy Ben, and Max is a down-to-earth relaxed guy who also has great timing for cracking jokes.
We are treated to a short cutscene of the three of them in a camper van on the way to the store to buy a new tent, suddenly they are stopped by a local carnival which blocks their path. At the head of the carnival is Zombozo who is causing everyone to be sad and depressed. Ben jumps out to fight Zombozo but is very quickly defeated and Ben is left lying in the road whilst Zombozo makes a quick retreat – with that over the game starts and you get full control over Ben.
From starting the game to doing the tutorial and having the small intro cutscene, you are looking at about 3-4 minutes – which is great, it means you can jump into the action and start playing the game without having to sit through a load of backstory or long-winded intro sequences. Yet, thanks to the mini-tutorial you got at the beginning and the impromptu hints you get along the way, you never get confused or wonder what is going on. You have two main goals in each level, defeat all the enemies you come across as you move from screen to screen and try and collect 3 ‘sumo cards’ in each level. It’s a simple concept, but one which I found fun and enjoyable – I played all the way through the game in one sitting, which I’ll come to later on.
The gameplay of the game reminds me of all of the Disney 3D platformers we got last generation, games like Brave, Disney Universe and Ice Age 3. It’s a simple 3D brawler with a bit of platforming brought in within a few levels. Also, similar to old-school games like Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, you will walk to the right and be placed inside walled off areas until all enemies are defeated. Once this has been done you will be allowed to continue onwards and progress further into the level. Ben has two actions, jump and punch, which are both quite ineffective so you will find that the majority of your time will be spent as one of the alien forms he can turn into. You start off with the ability to turn into one of three aliens but you will soon learn new transformations and by the end of the game you will have all ten of them.
Each alien form has its own set of moves. Some will fire projectiles, some will have cool attacks like turning into a wheel and mowing down the enemies and some will offer special abilities which allow you to perform certain interactions within the environment. For example, if you become Wildvine (an alien who seems to be made out of vines and leaves from an alien planet) you can grab hold of ledges in set locations and pull yourself up. However, like LEGO games, I have found a few areas where you required a certain alien but didn’t have them at that point. This would require you to replay the level in the chapter select in order to gain access to the sumo card.
Throughout the game, you are encouraged to not only destroy all enemies but also destroy any objects on screen – in doing so you will receive ‘Alien Points’ which can be used throughout the game to upgrade your alien’s attacks or to learn new moves. Each of the ten aliens has an unlock at 600, 1000 and 1600 points. I never found myself purposely grinding for these and by the end of my first playthrough I had about seven of them with all stages unlocked and the other three with one or two unlocked.
The level design was good, there is nothing too hard for kids to do, no impossible jumps (if you can’t make a jump just change into a different alien, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses) and the battles weren’t too challenging, including the bosses. The level design is also quite varied, there are three bosses over six levels, so two levels are relating to each boss. These three areas all look very different and offer a bit of variety and change into the game with new enemies.
The sound design was also really good, the music sounded like the TV show, the voices with their one-liners were fun and I felt it made the experience more enjoyable having all these quips and pumping music. The graphics in the game were also really good, it may not be on the level of Spider-man or Uncharted but the cartoon style with the clean, defined objects and brightly coloured environments made it a joy to play.
In terms of length, each stage took me about 15-25 minutes to complete on my first run so the game was technically ‘over’ within two to three hours. I say ‘technically’ as there are quite a few things to reply the game for if you wish to achieve 100% or the platinum. There are the sumo cards, as mentioned before, which you will most likely either miss or can’t obtain on your first playthrough. This results in re-visiting the previous levels, which thankfully tells you on the stage select screen how many you have found and how many are left to find in each level.
The trophy list also comprises of completing each level in under 15 minutes, so that also prompts you to replay the levels and try to finish them within the set time. Finally, if you want to aim to unlock all of you aliens abilities then it will require more than one playthrough of a few levels, although I believe this will come naturally if you aim to unlock the above trophies.
I can see this game being enjoyable as a kid as when I used to play my N64 and Gamecube, I would spend hours and hours in a game which I could probably complete within an hour or two these days. I have this game on my list to go back and complete all of the extra challenges as mentioned above in order to get the platinum at some point. I didn’t see any options for multiplayer though, which is a shame as it would have been great to play with parents or friends – maybe the other Ben 10 game coming in 2018 will include this?
Looking at the game as a 33-year-old, did I have fun? Yes. I miss games like this – short, pick up and play 3D platforming brawlers. However, die-hard platinum trophy hunters will most likely have the game over and done with within about 4-5 hours (based on their skill). The trophies do offer some challenge though as there are a few for beating all three bosses without taking any damage. I did find the repetitive one-liners a tad annoying after I had heard them about 10-15 times, this made me play as different aliens so I wasn’t hearing the same thing over and over. Which in turn was actually good as it gave me an overview of all aliens, although for the wrong reason.
Ben 10 is a great little 3D platforming brawler which can be enjoyed by anyone of all ages. You can easily pick it up and play the odd mission here and there within 15-20 mins or aim to complete them in under 15 if you are going for the speedrun trophies. For the adults, there is a challenge within the trophies (defeating the bosses without taking damage) yet for the kids, there is repetitive, mindless enjoyment. I had a lot of fun, but I feel the price may be a little too high for the amount of content delivered.
- Very cool art style and graphics
- Large variety of alien forms with individual attack styles
- Simplistic fun
- Great music
- Very short if you are only in it for the story
- One-liners can get a bit repetitive
- No multiplayer or second player interaction
- Price is a little high