Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Xbox Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox

There are some movies (or books for that matter) that we’d never expect to be turned into games, simply because they just don’t fit the bill to translate into a game successfully. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is therefore quite a shock as it really works as interactive entertainment, and it’s something that we just didn’t expect. Sure, they have taken the safe route and churned out another licensed platform game, which happens to be a fairly decent accompaniment to the movie remake.

Everyone is familiar with Roald Dahl’s magical story about Charlie Bucket’s fortunate golden ticket find inside a chocolate bar, which results in an expedition to Willy Wonka’s weird and wonderful Chocolate Factory. The plot remains untouched, which means for the majority of the game you’ll be making yourself resourceful around the enormous factory.

We’ve got to say that we love the visual style. It may not be based on an animated movie, but the people behind this have still opted for an appealing cartoon look, which makes the surroundings seem all the more warm and welcoming. Perhaps places seem a little empty on occasion, but this is a rare occurrence.

There are so many tasks to undertake in the factory that it made us wonder why Wonka didn’t expand his workforce! There’s plenty of Oompa-Loompas milling around though, and these little guys are almost always ready and willing to assist Charlie during his exploits. Order’s can be barked out at the Loompas with intuitive d-pad controls, allowing you to instruct them to follow you, to stop and wait or politely demand them to carry out some handiwork whenever necessary.

Oompa-Loompas come in various forms, categorised by their distinct appearances. Harvesters can find candy in trees, whilst Electricians and Welders can repair leaks and restore power respectively. The Blueberry Oompa-Loompas are definitely the strangest and roundest of the bunch as they roll around the factory following you to complete various tasks.

The games chocolate centre is definitely the use of the Oompa-Loompas, but there’s still plenty of traditional jumping and collecting to be done, and some fun and fantastic candy powers to call upon. These five powers are drip-fed to you throughout the course of Charlie’s fantastical adventure and have various handy uses. Our favourites include the Candy Balloon, this allows you to sit on it and bounce up and down on to reach higher platforms, thus summoning up great memories of Space Hoppers when we were kids (which unfortunately didn’t bounce as high as Charlie’s Candy Balloon)! Rock-Candy is meanwhile much like a human hamster ball, and it can be used for various things such as knocking squirrels out of trees, taking out enemies or rolling things around. Our final favourite is the Fizzy Lifting Drink, which will evoke memories of Peter Pan’s flight ability for many, as the power allows you to gracefully swim through the air, and even take an Oompa-Loompa along for the jolly ride.

It’s not all (insert favourite chocolate here and call us lazy), as the game suffers from constant repetition. There may very well be a lot of tasks, but does the game really have to throw the same missions at you again and again in a single sequence? A little more variation certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss. The Oompa-Loompas also border on the annoying, losing their path at times and seemingly needing a white stick apiece as they attempt to walk through walls without success, leaving you no choice but to go back and get the little guys back onto the correct path.

It’s these flaws that ultimately drag the game down a notch, which is a shame, as it certainly had the potential to go the full distance. Despite the above mentioned niggles, we happened to mostly enjoy our time in Wonka’s wonderful factory, but we still couldn’t escape the feeling that things could have turned out a bit better.