Video Game Review: Kids Will Dance to ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Reviewing games based on kids movies that are as clearly aimed at children as are the DS and Nintendo Wii tie-ins for “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” can be a tough assignment. What approach is appropriate? I generally think that I can only be honest about my personal experience with a game, but what if that game isn’t designed with my demographic in mind? Personally, I struggled with getting enjoyment out of either console version but I think some of my eight and nine-year-old relatives would love both.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Photo credit: Majesco Entertainment

The Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS versions of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” are relatively the same in that both titles work off the musical adventures of Alvin and his furry friends, trying to merge the popularity of games like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” with one of the most popular family films of the season. The combination doesn’t quite work, making for an odd hybrid of a kids game, dance title, and instrument-playing experience. Sometimes it feels like you’re playing the drums; sometimes like you’re dancing; sometimes like you’re just waving your arms or stylus like an idiot.

In the Wii version, you travel the globe, “Rock Band”-style, with the Chipmunks on tour. At 25 locations, the player swings the Wii mote and Nunchuk in time with the beat and icons on the screen. An icon hits the up arrow, swing up; the down arrow, swing down. There are brief in-song mini-games like collecting notes or dodging equalizer bars but the majority of the game is rhythm-based.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Photo credit: Majesco Entertainment

The DS version is essentially the same with only 10 locations and using a tap-and-drag system with the stylus to replace the Wii mote action. But it features many of the same songs and the same general aesthetic.

Clearly, young, young children can play either title without much difficulty and that’s important for tie-ins to “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” but it feels a bit like there was a missed opportunity to make a title that appealed to the toddler’s guardians as well. The graphics are subpar and the DS version is shockingly short, making tie-ins that feel like obligations more than creative endeavors. They needed Nintendo tie-ins for the movie, so here they are.

Despite critical derision, the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies have a loyal, young following and they’ll enjoy bringing a little bit of their favorite holiday movie and its stars into their gameplaying experience. Both titles easily could have and arguably should have better, but, then again, you could probably say the same thing about the movies. It won’t stop the kids from enjoying them.

‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’ was released by Majesco Entertainment. It is rated E (Everyone). The title is available on Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. It was released on December 1st, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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