The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn Review

By Lauren Alessandra on October 26, 2011

Whether it's video games, fashion or music styles, it's cool right now to bring things back to the present. This leads us to the revival of The Adventures of Tintin, a series that's been around since the early 1900s. With the help of Steven Spielberg, this worldly journalist is back on the scene in both a feature film and video game, which incorporate Tintin's The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure stories. Often with film tie-ins, the quality isn't there, but with The Adventures of Tintin this is just not the case. Indeed, it's a rather adventurous title that doesn't suffer from the typical pitfalls.

Whether you are familiar with the stories or not, it's pretty easy to follow. In the solo story mode, you follow Tintin who is a journalist with a knack for adventure. After buying a mysterious model boat from a street vendor, he's quickly thrown into a whole mess of thieves and pirates. Turns out, the model ship is one piece of a set of three model ships which all contain parchments that lead to hidden treasure. Tintin and his model ship are kidnapped and thrown onto a boat by evil smugglers in search of the treasure. On the way, Tintin meets Captain Haddock whose ancestry is connected to that of Francis Haddock who originally sailed the Unicorn. The two manage to flee the smugglers and decide to look for the treasure themselves with their parchments.

As Tintin is geared towards younger gamers, the gameplay is very simplistic. There's one button that you use to attack, but you can also perform sneak attacks as well by either sneaking up behind enemies or hiding in barrels. Tintin primarily runs as a platformer with a few 3-D areas splattered throughout. There are also some sections which require a bit of puzzle solving like using items around the room in order to open a door, but they don't require much thought.

Golden Crabs are hidden throughout for you to collect which requires a bit of creative exploration and generally the gameplay works rather well. The animations are pretty smooth too, which is great to see. Environments offer some creativity as far as fighting goes. You could choose to knock out someone by falling on their face or throw down a banana peel and watch them slam into a wall.

There's a few sections where Tintin needs to either drive a car or a plane and overall, they don't interfere with the rest of the game. The main issues with the gameplay are all within the sword fighting sections. The rest of the game you use the one button to attack so you'd think sword fighting would be much the same. Instead you need to use the directional buttons to slice and dice your enemies as your character moves along rails to their next fighting area. Blocking doesn't come easy as you need to hold down one button but then direct your blocking hand with the other.This would all be ok if the game had provided a bit more guidance with the fighting section, but the tutorial doesn't come in until about a quarter of the way through. Luckily enough, every time you successfully block an enemy, you get a bit of your health back, so dying during this section is pretty hard, but still, it'd be nice to know what you're doing.

As far as presentation goes, the graphics aren't half bad. With movie games, graphics are normally the first thing to get axed significantly, but with Tintin, the character models actually appear pretty natural compared to their movie counterparts. With that being said, there are a few instances where either the vocal track doesn't match up to the character's mouth movements and points where the graphics have a bit of a hiccup and the screen freezes for a few seconds. This primarily occurs right before major cutscenes.

One of the great things about The Adventures of Tintin is that the storyline doesn't just end with the single player campaign. There's a whole new story which you can play called Haddock and Tintin where you can either play alone or with a friend. This is completely unrelated to the Unicorn tale and instead focuses on Red Rackham's story. In this mode, you'll need to collect certain gold items such as golden slippers and golden cogs plus you can collect coins which you can spend on costumes.

Not only that, there's a challenge mode where you can ride around in a jet plane or relive those horrible sword fighting moments. It means Tintin offers a whole host of replay value, which makes up for the rather short single-player campaign.

Final Thoughts

For what it is, The Adventures of Tintin does what most movie related games can't. It makes adventuring with the film's characters fun and enjoyable and is in no way a train wreck. The game is definitely not for hardcore gamer folk, but it is a great way for families to get their kids into video games. Be thankful there are games like this that children can grow up with rather than Ironman the game. This is how a movie tie-in should be handled, other developers take note.

Simplistic gameplay that offers creativity and problem solving.
Highly replayable thanks to co-op mode and challenge mode.
Story is easy to follow and entertaining.
Cutscenes tend to be a bit glitchy with vocal tracks not matching up to characters.
Loading screens are terribly frequent.
Sword fighting sections feel out of place and lack guidance.
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