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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Review: 'Hero of the Rails' on Nintendo Wii

Hero of the Rails on the Nintendo Wii is available in Britain, so for a rundown and a reivew, here's what you can expect when bought, and what I thought of it.
Things you can expect from the game;
- The game is in fullscreen (4:3), sadly not in widescreen (16:9).
- The characters that are playable in selected games are; Thomas, Gordon, James, Percy, Emily, Spencer and Hiro.
- Victor and Kevin are not playable, but appear in the Sorting game at the Steamworks, where they individually smile at you when you put the correct coloured parts into their right boxes.
- David Holt, who's voice is in a Busy Buses DVD, is the narrator of the game, who has Angelis tones in his voice. The characters don't speak.
- When selecting the game on the Wii menu, a HOTR and T&F logo with Thomas and Hiro under it is featured, along with a snippet of audio of Go, Go Thomas.
- The main menu has Go, Go Thomas playing with Hiro on the left for Story mode, Thomas on the right for Games mode, some songs notes under them which leads into the Go, Go Thomas music video as an extra, and in the background, Thomas is puffing left then right of the screen.
- Annie and Clarabel however make cameos on the main menu when Thomas is puffing past the screen. Cranky can be seen in the last game when Hiro is driven to the Docks, although you can only see Cranky's legs.
- The Go, Go Thomas music video is the sing-along version as seen on the UK HOTR DVD (with less guitar).
- The Games mode has the category's of each game from the story, apart from a few. The game where you give Hiro his parts are used altogether, 2 in his hideout, one in the Steamworks.
- Selecting the Racing game is one not seen in Story mode. You play as Thomas who races Percy around a Black Loch and back.
- At the end of each game on the Games mode, Hiro, Percy, Thomas and Hiro each blow their whistles in the night at Tidmouth Sheds, accompained by The Fat Controller. It ends with a circle closing in on either The Fat Controller, or Thomas, who winks.
- The Cut-in scenes are from the special. Selected scenes are used to tie in with the game, although some have been edited, as in, when the engines talk, their mouths have been freezed.
- One cut-in in particular has the shot of the Steam Team agreeing to help Thomas while at Tidmouth Sheds. Some of the engines then blow their whistles, but then you can hear Mavis' horn, she wasn't in that bit!
- All the cut-in scenes have a blue border, indicating the widescreen footage. This also goes for the music video.
- 3 locations which are not currently seen in the CGI era of Thomas are in the game; Black Loch, the Lighthouse and Great Waterton.
- The game can be completed in half-an-hour.
- The game is developed by newcomers, Barnstorm Games.

Some games have you racing or following an engine, which I have to admit, was the difficulty! I struggled to turn the Wii remote as fast as I can, I was tired. The downside is that even for children, some of the little games may be too easy to complete and a difficulty level setting being enabled may have improve this feature.
During this, you can blow the engine's whistle by vertically pointing the remote up and pulling it down, sometimes while pressing B and there is a lot of games, with nearly all of them in Story mode going across 8 chapters. You only get to play at least 7 characters, but that's fine by me. 

The detailed 3D recreations of the characters and locations featured are superb, especially when 3 of the engines look shiny when cleaned! However the picture quality natureness of a Wii 4:3 game may lack the sharpness of widescreen games.
I was excited to start playing it. I was then dissapointed at first when I realised that it wasn't in Widescreen mode, which was a shame. 

Michael Angelis dosen't narrate it, although David Holt did a good job at resembling his voice, minus the accent. Three or four music cues are used in the games, even in story mode which have been recomposed specially for the game, I only recognised Engine Roll Call and Suprises.

I wasn't sure at first whether to hang on to the game after finishing, I wanted to because of the animation and that it was enjoyable, but I held onto it when I went to the Games section.The games are essentially a playlist of categories as seen on Story mode, but compiled together.

I did enjoy the game, and even though it is half-an-hour long, I strongly advise any of you to play the game, then go to the Games section, that'll make you keep it, not to mention the music video extra. I really like the game, even as a Thomas fan, and I do hope that Barnstorm will make another game, maybe and hopefully Misty Island Rescue, but with some improvements.

Gameplay - * * * * *
Video - * * * * * * *
Audio - * * * * * *
Extras - * * * * * *
Overall - * * * * * *

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