‘Tintin’ game a misadventure

If you’re reading this review, there’s a good chance you’re going to take your child to see “The Adventures of Tintin” in theaters. However, parents (and Santa) should be aware that “Tintin” is the video game equivalent of a lump of coal.

“The Adventures of Tintin” follows the plot of the movie, but does so vaguely enough as not to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it. Tintin is an intrepid reporter who, with the help of his dog Snowy and a downtrodden sea captain who believes he’s cursed, must uncover the mystery of a sunken ship. Think “Indiana Jones” for kids. The story is based off of a series of beloved French comics from the thirties and comes across as a lighthearted adventure. While the production values are top notch, the game’s story just doesn’t work without having seen the film first.

“Tintin” doesn’t put all of its eggs in one basket. Rather, it puts a half dozen eggs in many baskets, and unfortunately, they’re all rotten. Tintin’s globetrotting adventure features scatterbrained gameplay that forces the player through embarrassingly easy motorcycle driving segments and boring sword fighting scenes with clumsy controls. The player also gets to fly a plane that handles like a Winnebago and accelerates like a push mower. Great fun.

Players will spend most of their time jumping, sneaking, and solving puzzles in 2-D sections that play something like a travel-sized “Metroid” game. Tintin can punch his way through enemies with surprising efficiency and hurl beach balls, pots, and vases at enemies from afar. His trusty dog Snowy can fit through small openings to retrieve items as well, but it’s not a big part of the overall gameplay. Though the 2-D segments are clearly the most well-planned part of Tintin’s journey, the puzzles are rarely worth writing home about.

The main story is less of an adventure and more of a quick jaunt, clocking in at a mere four hours. If you’re a budget-conscious parent looking to give their kid a game that will keep them busy until school starts again, look elsewhere. Offline multiplayer can be a lot of fun, but doesn’t last very long. Also, Challenge mode is just the flying, driving, and sword-fighting in a minigame with special conditions. It’s a diversion that will last a handful of hours at best.

With colorful voice acting and a suitable musical score hitting all the right comedic and dramatic notes, the game looks and sounds great. However, no amount of shoe polish can turn a patched-together sock into a hiking boot, and the same goes for “Tintin.” It looks and sounds like the movie, but the gameplay just doesn’t work. Perhaps the greatest weakness of “Tintin” is that this is a kid’s game that assumes kids are terrible at games. Any parent who has tried to beat their kid at their own game knows that this is the opposite of the truth. “Tintin” is just too easy and too shallow to hold the interest of any but the youngest of gamers.

If you think your child is old enough to handle some “T for Teen” level violence, the “Prince of Persia” and “Uncharted” series will provide all the adventuring excitement that “Tintin” utterly fails at achieving. While the film this game is based on may be a hit with your kids, please don’t buy them the game afterwards. This is one Christmas present that won’t even last them into the New Year.