Is this Wii game a sequel or a prequel to Evacuation Earth for the Nintendo DS?
They're both set on the SS Lucy Gray, both feature the ship's computer Ivy, and even feature some of the same mini-games and character-quotes, albeit rerealised. ("That was easy!") However while this story is set about 300 years later, for the Doctor and Amy it comes earlier. Well, that's time travel for you.
Not that you on any level need to play both games to get each story. For while I found the plot behind Evacuation Earth to be simplistic, here, it has to be said, there is barely any storyline to be followed in the first place.
Instead we have a great big jumble of different tasks and mini-games for our two travellers, which includes both the Diet-Cybermen and the Power Ranger Daleks, plus an entire game of dialogue spoken with the characters' mouths hidden. Yes, literally for the entire game.
Now, given the early-21st century technology, that might sound like a bit of a picky criticism, until you realise that even the Daleks' 'ears' don't flash to tell you which one of them is speaking. Now that's lazy.
And speaking of the characters' perpetual facing away from the player, Amy runs like a girl. Seeing so much of her skipping from behind is reminiscent of watching Anneka Rice presenting Treasure Hunt.
Such creative apathy is all a bit of a shame when you consider all the promise that there is on display here.
For example, the design is fantastic, and in places gorgeous. There are little droids (dispensers) that each have their own personality and who disappear into the floor whenever they're no longer needed. (one of them sounds like a CCPC) Several rooms feature a sequence of (quite impractical) floating platforms that you have to guide the Doctor and Amy across without letting them fall off - these look enthralling.
At the outset it didn't look so promising though, with chapter one featuring meteor explosion sound effects that a) were out of sync with the pictures, and b) we shouldn't really have been able to hear anyway.
Then chapter two included characters breaking the fourth wall to impossibly advise me on how to play.
"He's quite friendly, but if you get scared you can use the C button to hide!"
I get that it's a game, but it's also an entry into the Doctor Who universe. Bearing that in mind, other lines like this one make perfect sense:
"An extra life just in case."
Yeah, yeah an alien in the TV series could give Amy that.
I also admit that I was going to criticise the actress voicing Ivy for sounding like she was reading her lines, until I realised that she was portraying an artificial intelligence constructing sentences from pre-recorded syllables! I have to eat humble pie there - too often I wish that science-fiction shows understood that this is how it should often be done. (although not always) I kept expecting her to suddenly come out with "Change here for. Bakerloo line. And. Hounslow, Blenheim Centre."
Also, when I was a kid, I used to write and draw comic strips that featured Daleks and other characters with physical question marks and exclamation marks above their heads. Well, you can imagine my joy tonight at sights like this one:
The exception would the final showdown between the Doctor and the non-flashing Dalek whom he confronts. Said Dalek gets a monologue of pure Dalek evil that is right up there with any words that Terry Nation ever put into their, uh, casings. Unfortunately it's all delivered to an off-camera Doctor, and dovetails into a conclusion so uber-lazy that it's on a par with the end of The Almost People…
Doctor: "Take it."
(DALEK PAUSES FOR 6 SECONDS, APPARENTLY IN SURPRISE)
(THEY EXTERMINATE HIM. IVY AND AMY DROP THE WHOLE SHIP INTO THE SUN. NEXT SCENE, THE DOCTOR EXPLAINS HOW HE SURVIVED…)
Doctor: (OUT-OF-BREATH) "It worked. The capacitor crystal absorbed the energy."
And that's it. That's yer explanation for how the Doctor survived being exterminated and thrown into the sun. I'd like to think that maybe said crystal only absorbed the Daleks' energy beams and that he somehow escaped before the ship was destroyed, but there's just no scene that I noticed to clearly convey this.
Throw in villains who just never go after our heroes (in chapter 16 the Doctor picks the Daleks off one by one from the front without any of them firing a single shot, and all this after they have been given the order to "AT-TACK") and I'm afraid I found this sort of underwhelming.
Dalek (VERY late): "SONIC DEVICE DETECTED."
Doctor: "Well that was quick, but I'm quicker."
You don't say.
At the end of the day though, Return To Earth does do the job. You run about, you use your dexterity (wii game remember), and you get to blow up the Daleks, and all the while listening to the Doctor and Amy being cheery as usual. One of those sonic screwdriver design of wii remotes would probably work best here.
And that it ties in so well with that other game for the Nintendo DS is just brilliant.
Definitely not one to Return To Amazon!