Blue Blistering Bashi Bazouks: Tintin

By Dan Grill on August 30th, 2011 at 10:54 am.


Roving reporter Dan Griliopoulos is driving home from GamesCom, but he turned the wrong way at the Baltic. Today he’s passing through Belgium.

Belgium! Where the only heroes are fictional! Hercule Poirot, Tintin and… The Smurfs? Anyway, it’s easy to sneer at Tintin; the plucky Belgian journalist went through an odd inception, passing quickly through the same facist, colonialist and racist phase as much literature of the 1930s. (Tintin in the Congo is essential reading if you want to understand why your great-grandparents in all probability shared these traits). But his adventures were always Jolly Good fun, in that way that inter-war kids stuff could be; all villainous millionaires and smugglers, where no-one who mattered was ever hurt except by fisticuffs, and the Cluedo-esque cast retired to Marlinspike Manor after an adventure to have their lugholes rent asunder by Bianca Castafiore’s rendition of the Jewel Song from Faust. When I was a kid, he was up there with Asterix and, um, Johnny Alpha. Apparently, Simon Pegg loved him as much as I did, because they’re making a film. And John Walker’s beloved Ubisoft have the rights to the tie-in!

Admittedly, The Adventures of Tintin: The Games is a very simple tie-in; a straightforward platform adventure, designed quite obviously for kids. The section we saw involved Tintin attempting to get into Marlinspike Manor, via a hitherto-undiscovered and conveniently plot-extending catacomb system. The whole thing is portrayed in what the developer chappy (who I believe was named “Drew Quackenbush”, but I may have been at the Loch Lomond) called “two and half D”, which as far as we know equates to 2D; half a dimension is like being half unique. You may have seen early 3D shots of the game – it appears they were ‘proof of concept’, unless they crop up later in the ‘exotic gameplay’ mode.

The manor appears to be packed with patrolling butlers, whom Tintin is mandated with the beating up thereof, for plot reasons we are not cogniscent of. It’s extremely complex, involved and meaningful; the butlers take one beating, fat butlers two. “Fighting’s not the only way to get through the game” says the developer demoing, as he just beats everyone up in sight in seconds, sometimes hiding inside barrels to jump out and beat them up.


He’s right though; sometimes there are puzzle elements, involving pulling levers simultaneously, triggering water wheels, or throwing beach balls at switches. One time he dropped a chandelier on their heads using a beach ball. We don’t know why Captain Haddock has filled his basement with beach balls. “You’d never think of a beach ball as a fun object.” says the developer. We never will again.

Then he introduces us to the game’s ‘exotic gameplays’. “We have three main types of exotic gameplay; plane-flying, sidecar and sword-fighting” he says, obviously interpreting exotic differently from us. The level we see is Captain Haddock and Tintin flying a biplane through a very convoluted canyon, to get to the Sahara. We don’t know why they’re going to the Sahara, but they attempt banter all the time they’re flying. Apparently the three exotic gameplays are also used in the Challenge mode, a time-attack version of the game.

The main redeeming element of the game appears once you’ve completed the main story; the co-op mode, which takes place entirely in Captain Haddock’s dreams. His dreams, oddly enough, are platform-oriented again, rather than about Red Rackham’s treasure, the time he went to the moon, or what was meant to happen at the end of Tintin and Alph-Art. To help the co-op players distinguish between the six playable characters, they’ve turned one of Thompson and Thomson’s suits white and made a black version of Snowy. You can unlock more costumes if, like me, this total heresy offends you. Each character has a different special power; Tintin can use his grapnel-gun to get higher, Haddock can punch through walls, the Thom(p)sons’ canes deflect gunfire, Snowy can dig for gold. Everything explodes in coins. I must have had an aneurysm, because I don’t remember anything this crass from the books. Nurse, my medicine!


On the showing of this, Tintin really isn’t for the RPS reader, or very much for the Tintin reader. The characters may be rendered like the books and the classical tension music conveys mild peril very well, but the throwaway platforming and kiddy fisticuffs don’t really work with the more mature and interesting investigative side of the Tintin world. We haven’t seen anything of the spy plots, Professor Calculus’ inventions, or the varied locales that really gave the books that distinctive feel. At the moment, the game may as well be an asset swap for another generic platform game.

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61 Comments »

  1. Joe Duck says:

    Kiddie film tie-in game and by Ubisoft! Gee, what a tasty treat!
    I completely agree, this does not seem very much for us. Or at all.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah.

      And John Walker’s beloved Ubisoft have the rights to the tie-in!

      Interest: lost.

      Admittedly, The Adventures of Tintin: The Games is a very simple tie-in; a straightforward platform adventure, designed quite obviously for kids.

      Interest: absolutely annihilated.

    • kuran says:

      Tin Tin (Kuifje) is not kiddie.. perhaps the film will be, but the books are to be enjoyed by all ages.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s a frequently incorrect assumption that Tintin is meant for kids. /nod

      I have a mild interest in this, anyway, due to my more broad gaming horizons. I like to play other things once in a while.

    • Griddle Octopus says:

      Dan here! I have to say, the game looked nothing like the press shots. I call bullshot on those.

    • Nesetalis says:

      i grew up on tintin books… and… fuck these guys, i’m going home :|

  2. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Hergé would not be amused. Neither am I.

  3. westyfield says:

    A black version of Snowy? But… but…

    Hopefully it will have this as its theme.

  4. CMaster says:

    Multiple ways of getting past guards, including hiding and melee takedowns?
    Globe travelling adventures?
    Punching through walls?

    Clearly, this is Deus Ex:More Human Revolutions

  5. Khemm says:

    I’m a huge fan of the comic. I don’t know if the movie will be any good, but the trailer for the game looks pretty cool, for kids or not.

  6. McDan says:

    Oh yes, it was totally tintin and asterix for me when growing up, they’re the best. Probably going to be ruined by the film and it seems the game though. Ah well.

  7. Joshua says:

    Heh. Congo is so ‘racist’ basically because the author did not do any research. He was called out for this, and afterwards, he did do a lot of research into where he made Tintin go.

    He also included some sort of reference to that in his latter strips.

  8. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Only good thing to come out of Belgium is their beer. Tintin=meh

  9. Chaku01 says:

    Try imagining a world where all these famous Belgian people were only fictionnal…

    http://www.famousbelgians.net/

    Its sad to see people still only know the waffles and the muscles from Brussels.

  10. arienette says:

    2.5D? I’m not sure how a game would work as a type 2 3D quadratic Koch surface.

  11. Malcolm says:

    I do like the art style. The gameplay does sound like it has come straight from the 1990s when every film tie in was a mediocre platformer.

  12. Brumisator says:

    Just play the Tintin games on super nintendo, they wre pretty okay.

  13. Gnoupi says:

    As long as it’s not as frustrating as this previous game: http://www.mobygames.com/game/tintin-in-tibet , it should be fine.

  14. Squirrelfanatic says:

    This is disappointing to read. The screenshots looked very promising. Great article nonetheless, nice to get such an honest opinion.

  15. terry says:

    Thundering typhoons!

    There has never been a good Tintin game, and this doesn’t look like changing that. Give me open world crime solving around Marlinspike Hall!

    I remember being given “Tintin on the Moon” by Infogrames for the Spectrum as a birthday present one year and vividly recall the mixed emotions of getting it as I was a massive Tintin fan, but the game was absolutely execrable.

    In the first part you had to run around the moon rocket putting out fires (there were no fires in the book, except on Earth, but never mind) and defusing bombs (there were no bombs in the book either) and nobly defeating the evil Colonel by shooting him in the face with a fire extinguisher. Your compatriots would meanwhile run a circuit round the level being captured every few minutes, as they were defenceless and had no sense of self-preservation whatsoever. Once you put out every fire and every bomb and rescued your friends simultaneously (within the time limit) the game kicked you into some into-the-screen Space Harrier segment, except it wasn’t half as good as Space Harrier (and Space Harrier was a bit shit too, come to that). You then had to collect big yellow balls of fuel to power the rocket, just like in real space! If you collected enough the game would throw you back into the platform game, and then you’d repeat the process of defusing in a slightly larger level. Then would follow a slightly longer into-the-screen segment etc. until the deeply underwhelming end sequence where your rocket dropped limply onto the surface of the moon.

    I would say it was the most disappointing birthday present ever, but the next year I got the “Live and Let Die” game :(

  16. RichardFairbrass says:

    I seem to remember playing a Tintin game on the Amiga which was quite fun, although the devil’s own bumhole in terms of difficulty.

  17. rivalin says:

    God, this really is the most painfully pc game site on the web. Not everyone is interested in a constant drip-frip of cosseted middle-class boy left-wingery inserted into every story you can shoehorn it into, even those about bloody belgian cartoon characters.

    How about you just write “this game is probably racist/sexist/classist/fascist and we are the great white champions of the oppressed” above every story you run?

    Too bad the quality of the wiring is so good here that there’s really no alternative.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “God, this really is the most painfully pc game site on the web.”

      Haha! Aha. Ah.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      “PC Gaming since 1873″.

      It’s right there in the header!

      Though I’ll confess I never realized “PC” was supposed to be read that way…

    • CMaster says:

      Do I spy a future site title?

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      RPS: It’s PC Gaming gone maad!

    • BobbyBob says:

      You know, I do agree with him on one point:

      This website does have excellent wiring.

    • sinister agent says:

      And now, for balance, Alec Meer presents the four-hour monologue “Argh! My neighbour is a black man!”.

    • Dozer says:

      +1 for “It’s PC Gaming Gone Maad!” – nice one Puffin!

    • Wulf says:

      … *snerk.*

      Still, RPS is actually far from the most politically correct as it tends to have a share of people with different opinions, I’ve seen writers from other sites whom are more so and less so. I mean, good grief, even Kotaku has its moments. (Leigh sometimes writes for Kotaku.)

      You just have to accept that people will have their own opinions and it’s hard not to let that slip into a blog. This isn’t professional journalism but rather it’s conversational blogging. This is something I’ve upheld for a long time. It’s not the same thing. That’s why I prefer not seeing anyone pretending otherwise.

      It’s going to be the same on every blog you visit.

    • Frye2k11 says:

      The Smurfs need a game, and then we need to have a pc discussion about :

      “The Smurfette Principle” : to depict “a group of male buddies … accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined.”

    • LionsPhil says:

      Nicely done, Mr Puffins.

  18. shoptroll says:

    Sounds like every movie tie-in that isn’t made by Traveler’s Tales or Rocksteady ;)

  19. jamesgecko says:

    The main problem is that while Tintin had a lot of action, most of it isn’t suitable for video game. The most gamey parts of the comics are where he’s running away from or chasing something. The rest is mostly walking around and talking to people as one convenient event or clue after another drive the story forward.

    Alas, Telltale appears to have been busy with other titles.

  20. Monkeh says:

    At least we will always have this game:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjy-0KCnYD0

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