the writings of a mind

Title: Disney’s Brother Bear
Genre: Platform
Strap: Oh brother, why are you? Driven over the edge, John Walker plots the assassination of Mickey Mouse.

I don’t think Walt Disney liked you very much. Sure, he pretended to with a Jungle Book, maybe charmed you with some Snow White, perhaps even made you cry with a Lion King. But it was all a sweet-scented trap to ensnare you into buying into his empire of meaninglessness.

Another holiday, another cuddly-wuddly animal featuring movie, little effort with storyline, big effort with lunchboxes and bedroom curtains. The pattern repeats, the public trudges drone-like to the cinema, then to the fast food restaurant, then to the toy store, theme park, and back to the cinema again. Only now we have the common addition of a trip to the videogames shop for the game of the film of the book of the fairytale.

And the mouse empire knows how it works. Child likes film, child wants more, DVD not sold for six months, child wants game. Game features same cover image as film’s poster, nagging begins. They know the actual game itself is irrelevant, and the resulting effort put reflects this cynicism to perfection.

Brother Bear lasts maybe three hours, half of which is taken up with the incessantly interrupting cut-scenes. Ensuring that there’s never more that two minutes of the agonisingly weak game, your little buddy bear will freeze the interaction to announce the exact same instructions he gave you last time. And if it isn’t the accompanying cub, it’s the dismally charisma-free mooses attempting what you suppose was meant to be comic banter, but is clearly the work Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas were contractually obliged to do before they could be released back into the Hollywoods.

Attempting to follow the story of the film, explanations for your character’s bear-ness are crowbarred in through a pitiful opening dialogue between the antlered pair. Then it is your job to lumber through the levels, collecting berries for ‘totem powers’ and various hidden statues for what is promised to be "special surprise". Well, this reviewer collected all six - and the only special surprise was an unceremonious dumping to the desktop at the end of the game. It was certainly a surprise, but not quite the joy-bringing delight that might have been expected.

Designed as a 3D platform game, it fails to deliver anything required. Your character is slow and clumsy, the levels are almost identical throughout, and the essential jumping element doesn’t work at all. The laziness with which this has been built is astonishing. When companies like Rare demonstrate the potential of the 3D platform genre, it becomes inexcusable for derisive efforts like this to be imposed upon a young audience.

If you really loved your child, you’d buy them a games console and some of the brilliant platform games available thereon.

Reality check: Penis-headed greed-monger Phil Collins provides the ‘music’ for the film. Thank everything you value that these songs aren’t in the game.

 The words "CASH IN" in massive flashing neon letters.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Disney Interactive
Minimum System: 350Mhz CPU, 64Mb, 8Mb 3D card)
Recommended: 500Mhz CPU, 128Mb, 32Mb 3D card)
Multi-player: Not at all. The internet is safe for another day.