It may have taken its sweet time hitting UK cinemas, since taking the US by storm since its release in November, but Big Hero 6 is worth the wait - both in terms of the game, and the film. Loosely inspired by a Marvel comic of the same name, Big Hero 6 follows the adventures of six gifted teens at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology (San Fransisco/Tokyo - geddit?), as a rather sad series of events forces them to re-purpose their scientific knowledge to help save the world in the only way they know how - with science! Transforming themselves into a group of high-tech superheroes, each with their very own height-of-technology power (including one fire breathing alien suit), it's a classic story of people finding themselves when their backs are against the wall - and it's well worth a watch. Picking up where the film left off, hitting stores a week before the film launches, is Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay - a tie-in game on the DS and 3DS that lets you play as the super squad themselves.
Made by the same people who brought us the great-for-kids Frozen: Olaf's Quest, Big Hero 6: Battle In The Bay is another Disney film-themed side-scrolling platformer, swapping the lovable snowmen for geeky teen superheroes. Set shortly after the events of the film, the city of San Fransokyo hasn't had too much time to pull itself together, before it finds itself in trouble once more, as a gang of 'Bot Fighters' (little battling robots that people make themselves) end up somehow being super-sized, and go on the rampage, terrorising the people of San Fransokyo. To get to the bottom of the mystery - and help keep the city safe - the Big Hero 6 squeeze into their costumes once more, to protect San Fransokyo.
And as you'd likely expect, with a city under attack, there are a lot of robots to beat up. Set in a beautifully recreated version of the city from the film, full of bright colours, neon signs, and, well, battle bots, it's up to you to jump from platform to platform, dish out some justice to the bad guys, and keep an eye out for the various hidden collectibles. While none of the hidden bits and pieces - health upgrades, the letters H, E, R and O and Aunt Cass' cat, the rotund Mochi - are particularly difficult to find, it may well take two or three run-throughs to find them all, adding some much appreciated replayability to the game's 30 or so levels. While 30 levels sound like a lot, it's worth bearing in mind that these are fairly short, perfect for handheld affairs, designed for pick up and play accessibility, to let you dip in and out.
In traditional, old-school platforming style, boss fights take place at various points throughout the game, too, where you face off against a more powerful foe in a one-on-one showdown. Luckily, these boss fights aren't all that tricky - keeping the game's young target audience in mind - and most can be defeated by enough button mashing - even if you will feel better defeating them with skill alone.
Each level sees you playing a chosen member of the Big Hero 6 - although, weirdly, you can't play as all six. Instead, you've got a choice between main guy Hiro, 'strong female character' Gogo, burly scaredy cat Wasabi and the ever hilarious Fred. Much like in the film, they all come armed with their own special attacks -Gogo has frisbee-like discs she can chuck at enemies, Wasabi comes equipped with a pair of cool energy swords, while Fred (easily the best character in both the game and film), comes complete with a fire-breathing alien suit.
Although they're mainly used for beating up the rogue robots, these character-specific moves do occasionally come into play outside of battle to. Fred's 'Super Jump' lets him leap to higher platforms (where many a collectible is lurking), while Hiro can cling to blue walls and wall jump up. In fact, Fred's Super Jump comes in pretty handy in combat too, as it can be turned into a super bellyflop, flinging enemies to the corner of the screen and causing large amounts of damage in the process - and it's sure to raise a few giggles too. It's nice to see how the game's attempted to recreate some of the individuality of the characters, too, giving them a selection of recognisable moves.
However, it does seem a bit of a strange oversight that only four of the titular six heroes are playable characters - both huggable healthcare robot Baymax and chemistry whizz Honey Lemon are noticeable by their absence. That's not to say that Baymax isn't in the game at all - he is, he's just been relegated to cameos in Hiro's levels, usually to help him beat up a bunch of bad guys at the end of each stage, kind of like an automated power-up - but he's in no way playable. Honey Lemon, meanwhile, also acts as a power-up of sorts, with her sticky/freezy chem capsules usable from the Touch Screen throughout. All you have to do is tap one to use them, with each having a different effect on the enemies on screen, and are useful for getting out of tight spots - whether they're temporarily short-circuiting all the robots on screen, damaging them all with a powerful shockwave or confusing them enough that they start attacking each other. Had they thrown in a more standard attack too, Honey Lemon could have easily stood on her own two feet as a separate character, with the added bonus of status effects - but instead she barely features at all, much to the disappointment of kind of crazy, kind of clumsy blonde chemists everywhere.
Still, with a bold and colourful art style, solid gameplay, and simple, easy to follow platforming action, this is a game that knows its target audience well. If you have a kid who enjoyed the film, and wants to try their hand at the whole superhero business, this will go down a treat. Unlimited lives, button-mashy combat and authentically recreated characters tick all the right boxes for younger players - even if you don't get to play as the personal healthcare assistant.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS