You've probably seen the movie, now play the game. Join up with Sulley and Mike as they chase down the toxic human girl, Boo, and save Monstropolis. Monsters, Inc. for your PlayStation2 tries to follow along with the plot of the Disney/Pixar movie and does a reasonable job of it in gameplay as well as by utilizing dozens of clips from the movie itself. Time to start scaring...
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Well, if you've played any 3D-platform game made in the last several years, you already know what to expect in terms of general gameplay. This game very much reminds me of Super Mario 64 for the N64 and Shrek for the Xbox as well as countless other 3D-platform games I've played. Just like these, you have to complete certain tasks or puzzles throughout the levels to finish. Unfortunately like the other two games, this one also has the extremely crummy camera angles to deal with which really takes away from the gameplay since there are many times when jumping from one place to another takes more luck than skill because you can't see where you're going. If you can stomach that, there's some pretty solid game play here that'll keep you busy for hours.
Aside from the camera constantly being in the way or not being able to get it where you want, the general controls have a good feel to them and are responsive. At first glance the controls seem complicated and they might be (every button on the controller is used), but the button prompts in the bottom corner help clear up the confusion. The button prompts show what actions are available for the X, O, Triangle, and Square buttons at any given time. These can range from scaring someone or something, to jumping, to pushing objects around, to talking, as well as several more. Sulley can also sneak around, hide behind things, and make a brief running dash ("Sulley Express comin' through!") and believe me; you'll need to utilize all of these to get through the game.
As you progress in the game hints will become available to tell you what's coming up next and how to possibly solve the next task. If you become stuck you can always find your counterpart, Mike, and ask him for advice. You can also talk to other monsters when you run into them. Talking to them multiple times will give you different responses, though most are useless. While the actual completion of tasks is somewhat challenging, the game overall really isn't. This is due to having infinite lives. You have a health bar but when it runs out it just resets you to some place not far back and anything you've accomplished stays accomplished. This helps keep the frustration down a little since you can continually go back and keep trying that seemingly impossible jump as many times as you like with no real penalty (although some of the jumps just seem impossible with those camera angles but they can be made). The only other things that will try to prevent you from moving along are the CDA agents. Some can be destroyed with Sulley's fancy tail whip while you just need to avoid the others at all costs since you can't fight them. With some time and practice you'll be breezing through those levels like the Sulley Express. The tasks are in line with the movie such as following and finding Boo when she runs off or finding pieces to make her a costume to look like a monster.
In addition to the required tasks, there are some extras to find. Hidden on each level are 100 discarded screams, five leaking scream canisters, and five mice to scare. Collecting screams adds to your scream total and with enough you can unlock bonus levels. Each bonus level is a neat little mini-game that really has nothing else to do with the main game. You can always go back and play these after they've been unlocked. Likewise you can always return to a previously played level to find the remainder of the items you may have missed the first time around. Finding the canisters and scaring the mice on a single level will unlock a clip from the actual movie that you can watch after the level or at any time from the main menu.
In addition to starting or continuing the game and setting game options (which are pretty standard for a game like this these days) from the main menu, you can also view some extra features too. The extras include the movie clips that are shown between levels as well as the ones you've unlocked. You can also view initial concept art from the movie, watch the original movie trailer, and tour the Pixar studios. The tour is made up of several interviews with the creators of the Monsters, Inc. movie as well as a quick tour of their new studios. The only thing missing from this DVD is the movie itself (unless it's hidden somewhere' now that'd be an easter egg worth finding)!
Ok, so they aren't quite as good as the movie, but they're still nice to look at nonetheless. Each 3D environment has good details. I didn't notice a whole lot of other special effects like reflections or shadows although some effects like the shading and colorful scream steam are worth mentioning. Overall the graphics don't seem to be the most technologically advanced seen on the PS2 but they certainly don't look bad either. I also have to say that I didn't notice any clipping problems at all during the game which is always a plus.
There are lots of great sound effects both related to the game as well as ambient sounds such as traffic, helicopters, machinery, or whatever happens to be around the area you're in. The music is upbeat and fitting for the game. It isn't too loud while playing so it doesn't seem to get annoying at all. If you're a purist, you can tell that the voices aren't the same as in the movie, but I think they did a pretty good job anyway. Naturally the clips from the movie use the same voices as in the movie. Of course you can always adjust the volume of the sound effects, music, and voices independently of each other.
I found this to be a fun but slightly frustrating game due to the bad camera handling which unfortunately has become standard in these types of games. The game is somewhat challenging but no matter how novice you are you'll be able to eventually finish it because you can never actually lose the game (definitely a plus for younger children, but still fun for adults too). The game itself seems pretty solid and the graphics and sounds are decent too. If you liked the movie and like platform games, especially ones focused around exploring or completing tasks (such as Super Mario 64 or Shrek), and don't mind manipulating a camera then you should definitely give this game a try.