Remember the good old days when absolutely every cartoon or TV show had a licensed game? Remember when there were games for everything, from Mary-Kate & Ashley to Rugrats? From Wacky Races to Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? It might sound weird, but I actually miss those days. Sure, the vast majority of those games weren’t good at all, but we would almost always grab a title or two due to the simple fact we were fans of the source material. We’d constantly try to convince others, as well as ourselves, that our purchase was decent and that “the game was underrated, the mainstream audience just didn’t get it,” until we’d finally give in and accept the fact the title wasn’t good at all. Why am I telling you this? That’s simple, it’s because Ben 10, the new game based off the Cartoon Network show I’d never watched an episode of, reminded me of those simpler days when gaming store shelves would be stacked with cheap licensed games like this one. While this isn’t exactly a bad title, it’s not anything special either. Just plain ok.
This title is a beat-em-up based upon the show’s 2016 reboot. It’s as simple and inoffensive as you can imagine. It doesn’t break any boundaries and can be a boring entry for anyone expecting a bit more than just your simple licensed title aimed for kids.
For starters, the visuals. One thing I can say about Ben 10‘s graphics is that they were very nostalgic for me, but for the wrong reasons. Despite the decent framerate, good resolution and colors, the game did look a lot like your typical licensed cartoon game from the Playstation 2 era, with that mix of weird polygonal models coupled with below average cel-shaded texturing techniques. This can most notably be seen during the game’s cutscenes.
When it comes to the gameplay, don’t expect complexity, don’t expect many combos, let alone any resemblance of depth. The game is a beat-em-up catered for a younger audience and this is noticeable in the controls, as they are, granted, simple and responsive, but also very basic. All you need to do to beat the entire game is to press X (or square on the PS4, Y on the Switch) all the time in order to defeat everyone in sight. You can even do this with your eyes closed and it still works fine. Once you beat a small amount of enemies, you fill up a special meter that allows you to do a screen-clearing attack, defeating all enemies in sight, making the already stupidly easy game even easier. While the game features a lot of characters to choose from, you are not forced to use them all, as there are very few character-specific puzzles (if you can even call those sections “puzzles”). You can easily beat the game by using the initial four-armed grunt alone.
Something must be said, though. The sound department is very good, as it features the same voice actors from the show, delivering a great performance. While I don’t watch the cartoon, I have to admit that this was definitely a plus. One can only imagine the effect this can have on an actual fan of the show. The soundtrack isn’t bad at all, either, but there aren’t many tracks to begin with, due to the game’s short length. There are only six levels, all of them taking between twenty to thirty minutes to complete. Boss battles are few and far between as well. The game does include a few areas in initial levels that are only accessible by using characters unlocked in later stages, promoting a bit of replayability, but you can easily 100% the game in four hours, maybe five if you’re not in a hurry.
Ben 10 might be a fun distraction for a few minutes, as well as an entertaining product for its younger target demographic, but it still suffers from subpar visuals and a ridiculously short length. It’s an okay brawler, definitely not as bad as your typical licensed game from fifteen years ago, but still a very forgettable title that won’t be remarkable to anyone old enough not to care about the show anymore.
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch.