Where the Wild Things Are is quite possibly the biggest exploitation of a licensed property ever. Anyone who has read the original story is probably wondering how they turned such a short and sweet story into a two-hour flick, let alone an interactive experience. While the film is able to successfully adapt the book to offer a charming and thoughtful look into Max’s world, the game fails completely. Yes, it has Max visiting a strange world where he meets some weird creatures who ultimately make him king, but the reasons why he is there aren’t even touched upon, and most of the experience is a big fat slap in the face to the story as a whole.
Griptonite Games decision to remove the game so much from the book and film is quite bewildering. While the story has little ground to move on in creating a game (there’s little to no action, and no real quests besides personal reflection), the developer has somehow managed to create a game that makes a massive mockery of Max and the world he visits. Put quite simply, this is one game that makes absolutely no sense at all. It just isn’t needed in this world.
The biggest mistake the developer has made with this game is trying to make people believe that this is a mystical fantasy world. Had they actually read the book or even watched the movie, they’d understand that the world Max visits and the creatures he meets actually take a backseat to Max’s problems in the real world. That is, the story’s main idea is that of Max’s own issues, not those of the wild things.
The story itself is probably the game’s biggest issue. Once Max has made his friendship with the creatures, stars begin to fall from the sky, pounding the ground and making life in the world very difficult. Dark shadows are also causing major havoc, consuming everything and anything in their path to total destruction. To avoid all of this pain, the Wild Things build a tower to the moon, where they live happily ever after.
As stupid and distanced that story is from the source material, the game also fails to execute this story through characters we can actually care about. Not only is Max’s presence never explained (his whole existence in the world holds the actual basis and meaning to the original story), but also the Wild Things themselves are never introduced. How exactly are we supposed to want to help these characters if we’re never really introduced to them or their feelings? Considering the source material that this is (loosely) based on, you’d think there’d be a bit more emotion within the explanation. But there isn’t.
The gameplay itself is just as laughable as the plot. The platforming elements are dull and broken, and the combat is repetitive and boring. A vast majority of the time all you’re doing is pressing the attack and block buttons in no real order, as no skill is required to take down enemies. You’ll occasionally have to rescue the Wild Things as they are abducted by weird little black things, but it’s frustrating how often this happens considering how big and strong they are.
The game is filled with glitches, framerate hitches and in-game bugs. Characters don’t appear when they should during a mission, therefore forcing you to restart, the framerate drops considerably when there is action on screen and the environments look dull and drabby, even on the Wii version, which can get away with downgraded visuals.
The Final Verdict
Where The Wild Things Are is an insult to the book and an embarrassment for the recently released film. While the film was able to adapt the book almost perfectly into a 2-hour story, the game distances itself from the source material, incorporating a laughable story that misses the point completely. The gameplay is bad and the presentation even worse.