Rocky & Bullwinkle

May 19, 2008

Rocky and Bullwinkle was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. Memories of Fractured Fairy Tales, Aesop and Son, and Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine remind me of Saturday mornings sitting on the living room floor with my younger brother having a good time watching all the shorts.

Rocky and Bullwinkle is a collection of microgames in the vein of Nintendo’s Wario Ware. The microgames can be played either separately or as part of one of the game’s seven 25-microgame shows. Each show centers around a specific part of the original Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon with appropriately themed microgames. As a reward for completing microgames in shows the player accrues boxtops that can be used to purchase items in Bullwinkle’s shop. Most of these add a score bonus that is only really useful for climbing the online leaderboards, but there are two items available that are extremely useful: the scrooch gun adds an additional timer unit to each game, and the parachute grants the player an additional life.

Those that are familiar with Nintendo’s Wario Ware games will feel right at home with Rocky and Bullwinkle. Each game is short, simple, and scales in difficulty based on how far through a show you are. There are more targets, less time, more complex shapes, etc. for each game as a show moves from beginning to end which, along with the game’s 105 distinct microgames, helps to alleviate any feelings of repetition.

Graphically, Rocky and Bullwinkle isn’t a powerhouse, and it doesn’t need to be to adequately capture the near 40 year old cartoon’s animation style. All of the included characters and settings look astoundingly like their cartoon counterparts (although they are a bit cleaner than I remember), and the voice clips are either borrowed directly from the source material of expert reproductions.

Rocky and Bullwinkle, like all 360 games, comes with a stable of achievements to be earned by the player, and this is the one aspect that just doesn’t feel fair. Two of the achievements are tied to completing specific objectives within specific microgames. Fine. What falls apart, however, is that the triggers only function within the seven pre-built shows. It’s exceedingly frustrating to know that you’ve played the Rocky show 12 times just to get Hyber Space to show up as a level 5 game when you should have been able to select it from the single game rerun menu and play through each difficulty level. Similarly, the achievement for completing all Aesop & Son (the seventh and most difficult show) microgames at level 5 is overly frustrating due to the random microgame selection.

Rocky and Bullwinkle is a good collection of microgames, and it really embodies what the Live Arcade is about: quick, fun, easy to pick up games, that can be played in five to ten minute bursts. The package is even better for those of us that fondly remember Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel.

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.