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The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure (Wii U) artwork

The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure (Wii U) review

"Snoopy's Grand Adventure doesn't live up to the name, but it's good at going through the motions."

I'm a sucker for the Peanuts brand, but I didn't see the movie when it came to the local theater because I was out of money and busy at the time. Fortunately, The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure has stayed on store shelves longer than the flick that inspired it was available as a local attraction, so I got my fix that way instead.

Available on a variety of platforms, Wii U among them, Snoopy's Grand Adventure is just what you might imagine: a license-based platformer based on the 20th Century Fox take on the classic comic strip that ran for 50 years and still occupies newspapers as "Classic Peanuts." The star, as the title suggests, is Snoopy. He is tracking down the various neighborhood children in an extended game of hide-and-seek that finds the beloved beagle traipsing through around 30 levels in all.

The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure (Wii U) image

Everything is simply presented. Once you get past a string of tedious brand logos, you're deposited on a title screen and you can press the usual buttons to get going or you can tweak settings. The game begins with a quick introductory clip either taken from the film or using related assets, and then you won't see any more of that sort of thing until the very end of the game, when you've cleared the last stage. The only text to speak of along the way comes in the form of level titles, and the game monitors how many jelly beans you have snagged in each area, but basically you can get the full experience here even if you can't read. Clearly, young children are the game's ideal audience.

From the level hub, which is an attractive representation of the exterior of Charlie Brown's back yard, including Snoopy's familiar red doghouse, you can enter the various game worlds. One new one unlocks at a time, and entering one presents the player with a new hub where a single stage is available. Each world hosts a few standard levels, and then there is a boss level. You can head back to familiar territory whenever you like, to collect every last bean, to find every last beagle scout, and to snag every peanut within a time limit after scattering them across part of a stage by passing a jar. This is an okay idea in theory, because platformers and collectibles are old companions by now, but there's not really any meaningful reward for putting in the work.

The levels themselves might best be described as "sprawling." They contain multiple routes, and you'll have to devote a lot of time to exploring them if your goal is to grab every last jellybean, since there are hundreds of the tasty treats available. Typically, gathering them all means a lot of backtracking, as you'll tend to see one path leading toward the upper right and another might send you diving through some water to the lower right. It all amounts to a lot of busy work, with only the occasional moment of real excitement along the way.

The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure (Wii U) image

Snoopy controls fluidly, at least. He moves left and right and he jumps, plus he can typically glide over long distances by using his ears as helicopter blades. As the campaign progresses, it's also possible to find masks (for the most part, each world introduces a new one) that grant him special abilities. One turns him into a scout leader who can climb on grating and vines. Another affects the gravity of his jumps, as if he is on the surface of the moon (and in one series of stages, he actually is). My least favorite option brings a giant magnifying glass that fills most of the screen and lets Snoopy spot walls through which he can pass, which I would like except that it seems to impact his ability to jump properly. Typically, I have little or no difficulty leaping from ledge to ledge, but there's a slight delay when he jumps while the costume's effects are in place, and it caused me to miss a lot of jumps. That wasn't fatal, but it made the pooch take a tumble and then I had to climb up a series of ledges to try again.

I've hinted around at it already, but Snoopy's Grand Adventure is an attractive game, with a bright art style that should appeal particularly to children. Sick as I am of games these days that predominantly feature 50 shades of brown, I was also pleased by the vibrant presentation, which suits the lighthearted action quite nicely and feels authentic to the license. Everything looks like a classical platformer, but filtered through a lavishly animated lens. There's also very little violence, which parents are sure to appreciate. Enemies are temporarily rendered unconscious when Snoopy hops on their heads, Mario-style, and the most violent scene of all is arguably the one where Snoopy takes to the skies while riding his dog house and eventually has an aerial showdown with the Red Baron. You'll find that dogfight in the comics and the cartoon movie, as well, so it's not exactly out of place here. Neither is the soundtrack, which is comprised primarily of jaunty classical numbers that I quite liked. They are very much in line with the stuff you'll hear in the holiday specials and they perfectly fit the experience, even enrich it.

The difficulty level is about even with the presentation. I didn't ever "die," because even taking damage is typically a temporary setback. A heart will start floating away from your meter, and usually it's easy to grab it before it drifts out of sight. Items along the way will also replenish your supply, and your life meter extends by one heart with each area you clear. Some of the later stages do get slightly threatening, with lengthy stretches of floor that are covered in hazards, so very young children could have a hard time of it there or even in earlier stages where the occasional tricky jump comes into play, but overall the game is suitable for all ages. A second player can also occasionally interact with items that Snoopy will find along the way (such as ledges that can be lowered to make it easier to follow alternate routes), so it's even possible for young siblings to enjoy the adventure together, in theory.

The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure (Wii U) image

My biggest problem with The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure is that despite all of the things it does well, it's not terribly exciting. The stages within a world don't have a lot of variety between them, and they're almost too large for their own good. Thus, I eventually gave into the temptation to rush through most everything, which actually was more fun than taking my time and trying to head along every dead-end path in search of a few more beans that didn't do anything for me. The masks didn't matter often enough to make things interesting, and I earned the bulk of the game's available "Achievements" just over the course of natural play. Getting through the whole adventure took roughly 3 hours, and I don't feel particularly motivated to return to any of it at a later date.

If you're able to find The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure in stores and offered at a price point that works for your budget, it's worth a look. You should find that it offers a decent and child-friendly experience with generally solid execution. There's not a lot of variety, but the cheerful visuals and familiar characters could keep youngsters and nostalgic adults amused for a handful of reasonably enjoyable hours before they inevitably go do something else, like watch the movie or read the comic strip. "Grand" may be a misnomer, but it's hard to blame marketing for that. "Thoroughly Competent," though more accurate, probably wouldn't have shifted as many units.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (December 06, 2015)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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