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Napoleon Dynamite: The Game

Napoleon Dynamite: The Game

ESRB: Everyone 10+
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: Miscellaneous

Developer - 7 Studios
Publisher - Crave Entertainment


Players: 1
Touchscreen Compatible

'Napoleon Dynamite: The Game' for the Nintendo DS arrives after almost 4 years since the movie was first released in 2004. Considering the movie was a huge success, grossing over ten times its production cost, it comes as no surprise Napoleon is being released in the form of a game for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. Having played countless number of disappointing movie-based games over the past few years I must admit I was not looking forward to this playing this one mainly because movie based games tend to be rushed and only seem to survive on name alone. To my surprise however Napoleon Dynamite: The Game turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Granted the game has its share of issues, nevertheless it builds upon the movie quite nicely and accurately captures Napoleon Dynamite's essence.


When it comes to Napoleon Dynamite’s visuals many will be somewhat disappointed. The game takes a very simplistic approach as it follows the same 'scrapbook' style the movie takes. Do not expect incredibly detailed visuals as this game barely pushes the limits of the DS. The environments and characters are presented as if someone was putting together a scrapbook with cut-outs from magazines, pictures and newspapers. This colourful 'scrapbook' is then given some life in the game. I must say though that even though the visuals are simplistic it does work and really gives you the feeling you are back in the hugely successful budget movie.

I found the graphical style of the game very unique and presented in the same laughable budget-like manner that the movie is presented in. For starters the characters all remind me of bobble-head dolls as they all have huge heads on tiny bodies. You can't help but chuckle when you fire up the game for the first time and you watch Napoleon's head with his silly looking face on a tiny body dancing about. It's so bad that it's good. There is nothing visually awe-inspiring in this game yet it captures the spirit of the film. Compared many other DS games this one falls short in the graphics department. For instance, the characters movements are not that smooth and there are virtually no facial expressions. I figure that this was done intentionally and as I suggested above it follows the same 'scrapbook' style as depicted in the movie. Regardless, the positives clearly outweigh the negatives and Napoleon Dynamite is given high scores for style and presentation.


As far as the sound is concerned, Napoleon Dynamite was a bit of a disappointment. On the plus side, I did enjoy some of Napoleon's and Pedro's comical one-liners. When Napoleon says, "There is more where that came from" during the Napoleon dance mini-game is quite priceless. The music is very mellow and reminiscent of the same tunes we hear in the movie. Some of the games sound effects are also very well done. On the downside, I found there was far too much text dialogue featured in the game. I just find it incredibly annoying having to scroll or click through dialogue of Pedro and Napoleon interacting. Typically the text dialogue is displayed during the games cut-scenes and just doesn't work that well. Part of Napoleon's success is his voice and we just don't get enough of his voice during the game. Additionally, although the music is reminiscent of the movie it is a little too repetitive for my liking. Finally, there are points in the game where there is no audio at all.


Picking up where the movie left off, Napoleon Dynamite: The Game features 25 mini-games based on various scenes from the movie. Without giving too much away, there is a story which is told in-between the mini-games, however you won't find yourself really following it as this game is really all about the mini-games. The story is merely just an excuse to lead you into each mini-game you will play. As you would guess, in order to advance through the game you must complete each mini-game (three stages each) with each stage getting increasingly more difficult. As the game progresses Napoleon runs into all the familiar characters from the movie. You will find that Pedro, Uncle Rico and his bad hair piece, Kip, and Tina the Llama are all included in the game. So fans of the movie should not disappointed with the lack of characters from the movie.

The mini-games themselves are actually quite fun. For instance, there was something really satisfying about launching Tina's dinner at her face or tossing the football further than Uncle Rico. Even my 5 year old daughter was enjoyed some of these mini-games. Granted, a few of them were too difficult for her but she really enjoyed games such as shooting the Alaskan Wolverines with the DS stylus or building the cake.

In terms of controles, overall I had no issues with them and the game utilizes a nice combination of buttons for some games and a use of the stylus for others. The controls are very basic and there are brief instructions laid out before each mini-game starts. In some of the mini-games you actually have the option of using either the buttons or the touch screen, not just one or the other. I didn't even realize this until after repeatedly losing on the 3rd stage of the tetherball game. When I realized I could use the stylus more often I progressed through the stages quite easily.

Many of the mini-games come across as rip-offs from games we have already played throughout the years. Nevertheless, I enjoyed some of the games much more than others and I believe there is a good mix for everyone. I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed such games as the Football Toss, Pegasus Flight, Feed Tina and Wolverine Hunt, these actually were some of my favorites. Dodgeball on the other hand was quite frustrating due to the gameplay design. I was looking forward to playing the game but it was poorly executed as the controls are kind of wonky and having to control both Napoleon and Pedro becomes problematic far too often as the AI does a horrible job avoiding the balls.

As I mentioned earlier each mini-game has three stages you must complete in order to unlock the next collection of mini games. After each game a score is displayed which lists your accuracy, points, the medal earned (bronze, silver or gold), and whether or not your achieved a high score. The point system is great and gives the game some replay value. My wife and I were actually competing with each other seeing who could get a higher score in the Pegasus Flight game. I should also mention the game has two difficulty settings (normal and hard). Unfortunately, the hard difficulty setting can only be unlocked after you have completed all the games in the normal setting.


If you are a fan of the movie and own a DS, Napoleon Dynamite: The Game is pretty much a must buy. You will have lots of laughs reliving some of the great scenes from the movie and with the assortment of mini-games available you are bound to find something you will enjoy. Granted, I would have loved to see some more animation and dialogue in the game, but for gaming on the go Napoleon Dynamite is a great addition to an already stacked DS line-up.


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