It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets in The Muppets Movie Adventures. Kermit and his crew of mega-star pals have come to the PS Vita in this bright and colorful platformer. As a life-long fan of the Muppets, I was ecstatic to see that two of my favorite things have finally come together in one place. But is this combination something great, like chocolate and peanut butter, or does it leave a bad taste in your mouth (like peanut butter and coffee… yech)? Let’s take a closer look.

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The Muppets Movie Adventures is about as classic a platformer game as you can get. It hearkens back to the tried and true formula that has been around since Super Mario Bros. Each level has you jumping from platform to platform while dodging danger at every turn. You play as one of four different Muppets character who are each trying to make it through a scene in a movie. Kermit stars in a pirate themed level as well as a sci-fi space adventure. Miss Piggy makes her appearance as a queen of a fantasy realm. Animal shows up in the Wild West, and Gonzo stars in a horror film where vegetables are coming to life.

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Each stage, or movie, begins with a director giving you the story behind the scene you’re about to enter. There is also a narrated cut-scene that provides the back story for what is going on. All of these pieces of narration are cute and feature some humor that may go over the heads of younger players. These little snippets of stories are all separate from each other and aside from the Muppets characters, there is little connecting one stage from the next. There is one exception to that. You can find musical scores in all the levels that can then be used by Miss Piggy to help her collect all the stars in her stage. It feels a bit random that this is the only time actions taken in one scene directly impact another.

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Speaking of collectibles, scattered throughout each scene are a number of  items that you can grab along the way. Stars, film reels, and magic movie tickets all give you something to search for as you make your way to the end. Not all of the items can be collected on the first play through and after beating the level for the first time, you’ll be given extra abilities that will allow you to go back and get the rest.

This gives the game a little bit of replay value, which is good because aside from trying to collect 100% of everything, there isn’t much that will keep you coming back.

The Muppets Movie Adventures is a beautiful 2D side-scrolling platformer featuring the Muppets. It is everything I could ask for in a game and yet I find the whole thing to be a bit underwhelming. First of all, it’s short. Each one of the stages only takes about 20 minutes to complete, or a bit longer if you’re going after every collectible.

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And second, it’s really easy. Yes, I know, it’s a kids’ game, it’s should be easy, but it’s more than that. There are parts in the game that offer a really good platforming challenge, or places where it’s really easy to die. The problem is that there are few repercussions for dying. You have unlimited lives and each death only sets you back a ways to a previous check point. You may lose a little progress, but not much.

But I’m probably not the target market for this game. It is a kids’ game, so I handed it to my 8 year old daughter and had her play it. She was cruised through with no problems. She’s almost as big a Muppets fan as I am, so she loved it. She really loved playing The Muppets Movie Adventures… for about a day. After a day of playing, she was done and it was back to Minecraft. Why? It was too easy.

I think there’s a false perception out there that in order for a game to be fun for kids it needs to be easy. Yet if I think back to the games I grew up on, and they were anything but easy. They offered a challenge. They were difficult, and when I finally learned how to beat them, I had such a great feeling of accomplishment. The Muppets doesn’t offer that. Maybe if you had a limited number of lives or there was a punishment for failing, there would be an actual level of excitement. But without consequences for failing, there’s less gratification in succeeding.

I may be coming across a bit harsh on the difficulty, but one place I can’t be harsh is talking about the presentation of the game. It looks amazing. The character models for the Muppets are great and the art work for the backgrounds is also top notch. To add to this, the music for each of the stages is tailor made for the genre you’re playing in. So you get the accordion heavy music in the pirate level and a thrilling orchestrated score in the sci-fi epic. It’s really great. The only disappointment is that the characters themselves don’t speak.

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The controls are both a blessing and a curse. The game controls great 90% of the time as you have the basic two-button system that is standard in platformers. You can jump and you can attack (Miss Piggy, the prima donna that she is, gets two ways to attack so she has three buttons to use). Where it gets frustrating is when you’re confronted with those moments that they shoe-horned in the Vita’s touchscreen. Occasionally you’ll have to flip a switch, which of course means you need to swipe down on the screen. Perhaps the most odd use of the Vita’s motion sensors comes right at the beginning when you have to tilt the Vita from side to side to swing Kermit onto a dock. It’s something you do right away and never again. It’s so random that I question why it’s even there. In fact, removing most of the times when you’re force to touch the screen would probably improve the game.

As a huge Muppets fan, I have been greatly anticipating the arrival of this game. After playing it however, my level of excitement has dropped a great deal. There are moments in the game that are fantastic and a lot of fun, but they are greatly over shadowed by the lack of any real challenge. It’s a beautiful game that could be really good, but it’s hard to recommend it, even for kids.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Brad is a video game enthusiast and family man. He's been gaming since the days of the Intellivision, and while that indicates he's been doing this for quite some time, he doesn't intend to quit anytime soon. Currently he's trying desperately to convince his daughter that there are more games than just Minecraft (unsuccessfully so far).
  • Lester Paredes

    Aw, that stinks. No challenge, huh? And really short. I guess if it makes its way to North America, I’ll wait for it to drop in price, unless it’s less than $20 to begin with.

    • vongruetz .

      For what they’re charging for the game, I’d pass on it (and as a huge Muppets fan, that’s hard for me to say). They would probably be better off just porting the game to iOS because it would be a better fit there.

      This game just reminds me of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. That movie was all about a group of people who wanted to experience Christmas but they never really understand what Christmas is. They think if they dress the part, put up decorations, and hand out gifts that they have captured the spirit of the holiday. That’s what this game is. It’s as though these people took the Muppets and put them into a game without really understanding what makes the Muppets special. There’s no soul here. It looks like the muppets but it feels all wrong.

      • Lester Paredes

        That makes me very sad. I have to go hug my Kermit, now. Excuse me.

  • Rodolfo Ferreira

    The fact that Disney ‘implemented’ the use of touchscreen for this game – to be used only once throughout the game, that is – clearly shows that, in order for this game to be okay when passing the QA test at Sony, Disney had to do it. Sony did it again.
    That’s why I support a third revision of the Vita, without the rear/front touchscreen and the support for memory cards, replacing it for microSD or even SD cards. What I think it’s okay for Sony to ask every developer to support is the near function.
    You have just cleared a level at the highest difficulty and need an item to complete a *side quest*. In order to enter the side quest, you’re asked for an item that can only be obtained using the near gifts. This item is random for every single player, so I might have the item that you need; So the game brings up the near screen where you trade your item and hope someone has it. Once you’ve obtained the item and completed the quest, then you will get the *side-quest trophy*. In the end, you get to interact with more players, use the near application even more to achieve your goal and discover people around you who play the same game. It’s all about expanding your social level. More useful than forcing you into using the touchscreen for every single game, don’t you think?
    Back to the game, well.. let’s just hope the nice Vita Team at Disney learns from their mistake and make it different with Infinity in 2015. I hope Infinity steps up and makes us have a good time with the Vita, again.

    • vongruetz .

      The team making Disney Infinity is different than the team that made this game, so I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. The other thing with Infinity is that it’s basically just going to be a port of a game that is already available so most of the design features have already been figured out. And since it will also be coming to the PS TV, the chances that it will heavily rely on Vita specific features are not likely.

  • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

    Brad I completely echo your thoughts about kids games being easy. It took me weeks to beat Sonic The Hedgehog and Mickey Mouse Castle of Illusion back when I was 6 but I kept at it and completing them was a huge sense of accomplishment. Kids games shouldn’t be easy, just inventive and fun. I know kids that are better at games than I am. Just look at that six year old guitar hero god on YouTube to see what I mean!