Alvin makes his debut to Kinect and a dance game at that, that’s not really surprising as we’re over saturated in that category. What is surprising is it actually works. If you have no knowledge of it, here’s the synopsis:

Experience stardom on stage in this game based on the story you see on-screen in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked! Play as all six superstars from the Chipmunks and The Chipettes: Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Brittany, Jeanette, or Eleanor, and belt out 30 of their greatest hits. Learn 50 dance moves and earn points based on how well you perform them. “Alvinize” your voice in a single-player storyline based on the film and full of fun cutscenes. Have a two-player dance party in Co-op Mode, go straight to your favorite song in Freestyle mode, and pull of show-stopping finishing moves with help from your Munk Power meter.

Overview

Alvin’s first dance title isn’t actually too bad. Behaviour Interactive developed it and they probably did one of the smartest things. They listened to us by either borrowing the detection system from Dance Central or replicated it. I suppose it’s fine if developers want to keep making dance titles, but it’s almost a requirement to have Dance Central’s detection system, otherwise don’t bother, but then again, I’m not sure how many more dance titles we can handle. Anyhow, this game is authentic in a Chipmunk sense, however it really has nothing to do with the movie besides the venues which may disappoint some.

The Menu

The menu is also the dance central style, but it’s slower, I’m guessing for kids so they can take their time to choose what they want. The menu system consists of several different items but I’ll break them down as usual. It includes Story,  Free Play, Coop, Customization, Trophies, Questionnaire and Options. Free play is very straight to the point, you just pick a song and go. Trophies is just a static image of what trophies you have won. The rest go into a little more detail.

Story

I’m not sure what is going on with these kids games as of late, but I don’t remember it being a good thing when the story is presented with static images and just spoken words from characters. Typically, I look for movie games to explain the movie if I haven’t seen it, and this game does a horrible job of it. The story is broken up into 6 areas/venues. There’s 5 songs per section. Only the first section is unlocked, all the remaining are locked. You have to pass 4 songs with a minimum of 4 stars in order to unlock the next section. In between sections, different slide shows play in between and you have no idea what is going on, the story doesn’t stick to anything and it’s just everywhere. That’s all there really is to it.

Coop

The co-op mode isn’t too different. It’s basically free play as you can choose any song. One note I forgot to mention, in Free play mode and Coop mode, all of the songs are unlocked whether you unlocked them in story mode or not. Anyhow, Coop is strictly dancing only (for some reason I thought there was a Karaoke mode in here) and it’s taking turns. Basically a cue card with 2 reverse/switch arrows will prompt players to take turns.

Customization

The customization mode allows you customize the chipmunks, although it’s not a lot of content but I guess at least the idea is there. You can customize all 6 of them, however you have to unlock their items first. You earn stars from the songs and the stars accumulate and become your purchasing system. Each item has a certain number of stars to purchase and all chipmunks have their own items to unlock, so it may take a little bit. Categories include headwear (boys have 6 items, the girls have 5), glasses (4 items), and outfits (1 special occasion outfit for all). You can also change your chipmunk in here, you can choose from any one of the 6. It would have been nicer if there was more items in here.

Questionnaire

I’m not quite sure what the point of this is. When you first start the game, it prompts you for this questionnaire. It asks you questions such as what do you like about school with 4 answers to pick from. Basically it attempts to pick a chipmunk for you, but since you can pick your own, I wasn’t really understanding it. You can redo the questionnaire anytime you want.

Options

The options include your basics such as the audio volume, Kinect tuner, change profile and credits. There is a game option as well and under here it does allow you to turn off cue cards and the lyrics, although turning off the cue cards doesn’t give you anything special. You can also reset the story mode in here, but I’m not sure why you would since there really is no story.

Gameplay

Even though I pointed out all the bad as usual, there is good to this game. The first is the detection system. It’s a replica or is Dance Central’s and it works well. I actually did have to move around doing the moves, typically these kids games don’t make me break a sweat at all. It detects your feet, legs, arms and hands. You don’t have to worry about your head which is good as the chipmunks seem to belong in A Night At The Roxbury. The only issue you may have is the chipmunks seem to be like short and plump, so their moves aren’t as extensive as a person’s would be because of their short legs and arms, so you may be unsure of what they are doing, but as long as you get the idea, it usually counts it for you.

Moves are rated on a similar system to Dance Central. You can get red for not doing it right at all, yellow is good, green is great and blue is Munktastic instead of flawless. The detection is shown in either red or yellow to give you an idea of what you are doing wrong. If you get, I think 3, Munktastic moves in a row, then the background changes to a dance type background. Also you have a meter called a Munk Power meter. You fill this up with Munktastic moves, once it’s filled, your chipmunk will do some trick move and you get bonus points. I would recommend to pay attention to one of the other chipmunks and just do whatever they are doing as your chipmunk’s super move kind of messes you up. They also included a solo mode which is like Dance Central’s free style mode, except you have a meter to fill up, and filling it up all the way gives you bonus points.

Music and Graphics

As with all music based games, usually music plays a big part of it as well. What I don’t get is the chipmunks have survived for a long time, they were around when I was a kid and they are around with my kids now, and my kids like them as I did, I suppose I still do, but anyhow, all of the music is from the past movies, but its all of the older stuff which is ok but it’s not ok. The chipmunks have been attempting to “stay alive” by incorporating their style with more recent songs. There are no recent songs in this game (even though they sing/dance to recent songs in their movies) which made no sense to me. They should have went half and half as I understand why the classics are in there, as it will really help your children expand their music experience, but they may not like any of them unless they know them, whereas the new movies are portraying the new music so they may be disappointed if they can’t dance to a newer song. I am baffled on that part. If you haven’t seen any of the songs, here they are in a previous post.

I thought it was appropriate for the time of the year, so I did make a video of the boys doing their classic, except this is the rock remix which actually sounds better in my opinion, but it does take away the classic feel to it. Anyhow, here’s the video:

And for the regular music, I made a video of the girls as well doing “Beat It”:

The graphics are ok, but the backgrounds are pretty static for the most part. I really think the chipmunks could have been detailed a little bit more to match their quality of their recent movies, having them actually singing to the songs and make the backgrounds more animated.

Conclusion

Overall, I look at this as a good game to get for your kids but ONLY if they like the Chipmunks and want to learn  how to dance to these video games. If your kids find Dance Central too difficult, than this is probably the best solution at the time of this review as the moves are somewhat basic, but they are repetitive to teach kids how to move in rhythm and learn the basics. It really is just a dancing game, so if you were expecting content or deep story mode, this one isn’t it.

I also don’t see any future DLC for this although you never know, depending on its success it may receive new songs. As I mentioned, if this game had any other type of detection system, it would have been a flop, but because the developers were smart on this one and listened, this is a decent title for the purposes I mentioned. Now if developers would only fulfill the rest of our wants/suggestions, we could have some quality games and really distinguish Kinect games, even in the kids category.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?