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Zathura PlayStation 2

Published by 2K Games
Developed by High Voltage Software
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

Zathura, an introduction.

As you've probably already guessed, Zathura is a game based on the movie of the same name. If you've seen the Zathura movie then you'll already know what the game is about but we'll give a brief description here just in case you haven't. The game begins with a father leaving his two sons, Walter and Danny, home alone. Danny, the younger of the sons begins pestering his brother for some food but Walter is too engrossed in TV to get off his backside and prepare food for Danny. Danny loses his patience and hurls a baseball at Walter's head which naturally gets Walter's attention. Walter gets up and proceeds to chase the now apologetic Danny around the house. Walter eventually finds Danny hiding in a dumbwaiter and decides to lower him down to the basement despite Danny's pleadings for him not to do so. When Danny arrives down in the basement he naturally looks for a way out. Just before the stairs that will take him out of the basement, he finds a board game entitled Zathura. Danny takes this back to the living room, where Walter is now watching TV again, opens the box and begins to play the game. The first card that pops out claims there is a meteor shower and as soon as Walter reads this out (Danny can't read it and says 'meat or shoe'), the house comes under attack from a meteor shower. After this has passed, and Walter has lambasted Danny for the damage that the house has now taken, Danny realises the house is no longer on the ground and is in outer space. That's the least of their problems though and it's going to get a whole lot worse.

What's the game about?

Zathura is an action game that sees you controlling 3 characters (with Danny and Walter being two of these) throughout the game. It's typical, run of the mill, action game stuff with platforming elements thrown in too. The characters have their own unique abilities which make things a little more interesting.  A few boss fights have been included too. Essentially this is an action game for children and the easy going difficulty level definitely highlights this.

What's good about the game?

Whilst we think the game is a bit too easy, it's probably also worth mentioning that for some this might be an advantage. Zathura never really becomes challenging at any point. Yes there are moments when you might think you're done for and there are times when you'll run into a situation and you'll be killed but the game is very forgiving, your lives are unlimited and you won't be greeted with a game over screen that simply drops you right back at the beginning of location you're in. You never have to do too much backtracking to reach the point at which your character came unstuck and it means you won't have the frustration of having to do large sections over and over again.  It's also worth mentioning that the game is only £19.99 which is inexpensive given that most movie based games are usually full price.

What's not so good about the game?

In many ways Zathura is your typical movie based game. There's nothing remarkable about the game and if you weren't interested in the movie the chances are you wouldn't give the game a second look. The game is really a bland affair that not only looks, but also feels, quite basic. Camera angles can be a pain at times but by far the most aggravating parts of the game are the platforming sections which will have you pulling your hair out. Here the camera switches to a side-on view and it's a right pain making the jumps successfully. Several times your character appears to fall right through the moving platform he's trying to jump on (which probably isn't the case but the poor camera angle makes it appear so). It's possible to fall off one end of a platform and then to appear at the other end of it or, on another platform completely, which looks very odd. In short these platforming sections are just a right mess and the game would have been a lot better without them.

How does it look?

Zathura is a typical no frills PlayStation 2 action game. The graphics are OK but given that this is game that arrives late in the lifespan of the PlayStation 2 you would have expected it to look better. The character models suffice but the environments you'll encounter during the game look rather bland with rather basic textures being a particular source of disappointment. The frame rate is pretty low to be honest and this makes the platform elements, such as jumping etc. feel rather laboured. Camera angles can be problematic at times but the game never really becomes that difficult so this is not as big a problem as it could have been.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

On first playing the game you'll find there are no options to enable subtitles which is not necessarily a bad thing (some games don't give you the option but are subtitled anyway) but on beginning the game you'll be launched into a cutscene that's unsubtitled and suddenly it all begins to look a lost cause. The early scenes of Danny aggravating his brother Walter, and Danny being subsequently chased into the basement, are not subtitled. However once Danny finds the Zathura board game the subtitles, as if by magic, suddenly appear. It's all very strange and you have to wonder why the first part of the game wasn't subtitled when subtitles have been added at other points. Tutorial tips are shown in text

Final thoughts.

To put it bluntly, if you've enjoyed the Zathura movie and fancy a rather basic action game of the movie then Zathura is the game for you. For those looking for an action game with many more inviting titles to choose from, Zathura should not be considered. Low frame rate, poor platform sections and the general lack of challenge are the main complaints we have with the game. The game definitely feels like it's been aimed at younger gamers but even so the game doesn't really have the qualities to keep younger gamers interested for too long and the platforming sections will have them becoming frustrated with the game.

Overall Game Rating: 5.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Unfortunately Zathura is a disappointment and could have been better in a lot of ways. Fans of the movie might appreciate the game and it's good to see the game's only £19.99 instead of the usual £39.99.