There’s something charming about old school 3D platformers. Whether it’s nostalgia, love for a character or just pure simplicity, the genre is usually fun to visit. The rate of release has definitely died down over the last few generations, with 2D making a bit of a comeback. However with titles like Yooka-Laylee, Snake Pass and the recent Spyro remasters, 3D platformers have seen a bit of a resurgence. Sadly, Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure cuts a little too close to a bygone era, where licensed games were pumped out with little regard for quality.
Are we there yet?
To put it simply, Scrat’s Nutty Adventure is a bit of a boring trip. You can instantly tell the game has been developed for kids, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, it lacks the slightest bit of depth. The game is made up of four core areas, each consisting of a set of mini-levels. In each level, the main objective is to just figure out where to go, which incidentally isn’t very difficult. You jump on things, collect gems, and complete simplistic puzzles before a boss fight comes, and you move on. The areas themselves contain some pretty neat level designs, but the game does so little with them that it’s almost frustrating. Once you’ve played the first area you know what’s in store, aside from a few abilities you earn for the latter two areas.
If they’d of taught those abilities earlier on, things could have been more interesting. The double jump and flying mechanics allowed the developers to flex a little when designing levels, so the last couple sections are more entertaining. There are areas to go back and revisit once you earn these skills, but I had no motivation to do so. The game isn’t fully open world, but I feel like that level of freedom would have provided a nice platform to get more use out of the late game abilities.
From a technical standpoint, this feels like a really early Xbox 360 game built to a budget. Bland textures and an uninspired art style hardly bring the game to life. It’s polished enough and Scrat controls well in the environment, but it just feels cold. The world feels like it dropped off a factory line conveyor belt, with no artistic vision or direction. Some work developing a more unique and nuanced style could have given the game a bit more personality. As it stands though, Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure feels like the type of game we all associate with a cheap, movie tie-in.
One area in which this one rises above the usual licensed filler is playability. Scrat feels snappy to control, which is ideal in a 3D platformer. The game doesn’t require that much precision, but it is nice to not feel floaty when bouncing around from ledge to ledge. Because of this, I typically tackled each enemy I encountered and smashed each gem box I saw, even if you don’t need to do so. The exception to this rule of dexterity is the slide sections though, which bugged out on me most times I came across them. If I got stuck halfway down, spamming jump until the end usually rescued my flailing squirrel from his unfortunate demise.
Can you speak, Scrat?
The lack of voiced characters is a cause for concern too. Even if this game is aimed at children, there’s no real personality or entertainment factor to the way the story plays out. I could see it boring kids to the point where they choose the movies over playing through the game. Cutscenes are over in a flash, like the developers are rushing to get them off-screen, and whilst Scrat’s expressions tell us something, he would have added a lot of charm to the campaign had he been well-voiced throughout. In comparison; the recent Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy is a prime example of a so-so story being elevated by great voice acting and charming dialogue.
In summary, I didn’t dislike my time with Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure. As a barebones 3D platformer it plays well and for that, it deserves a bit of credit. The late-game abilities opened up the levels, and I would have loved to have seen them given to the player earlier. However, a complete lack of personality from a game that would have thrived on it puts a damper on the whole experience, and Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure ends up being a pretty boring wander through some slightly snowy hills.