If PlayStation Move Heroes had been the flagship pack-in game that accompanied the Move controller when it debuted last September, Sony's stab at the motion-control market might have been a lot more successful. Instead, we ended up with the faceless Wii Sports knockoff Sports Champions, and the Move ended up losing the holiday motion-control battle (badly) to Microsoft's Kinect. Timing, as they say, is everything.
Fast forward six-plus months, and we get a great look at what could have/should have been. Move Heroes collects characters from three of Sony's most successful first-party franchises: Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter and Sly and Bentley. Contrary to what gamers might expect, this isn't an all-star, über-platforming spectacular aimed at the hardcore set. The six cartoon critters have been plucked out of their respective worlds and forced to compete in a collection of mini-game challenges by a sinister alien. Each type of challenge -- and there are more than enough here to stave off any sense of boredom -- showcases a different aspect of the Move controller's capabilities.
The difference is that Move Heroes goes well beyond the basic. For instance, there are a series of bowling-game challenges -- shades of Wii Sports! -- but instead of just knocking down a set of pins, you're steering the ball with the Move controller once it leaves your hand, bouncing it off bumpers and up ramps, skee-ball style, to hit targets that are sometimes located several stories in the air above you. Other challenges find your character of choice wielding a laser whip that can either shred enemies or grab them and whip them around, or flinging and guiding explosive discs through the air to hit targets. Each character has a signature move that can be unleashed once you've filled a power meter.
Those who've spent more than a few afternoons flipping and double-jumping around complex worlds with the likes of Ratchet and Daxter aren't likely to groove on the fact that movement options are pretty limited in the game's early going -- no jumping and dodging here. The game offers several control options, but the most effective one -- big surprise -- incorporates the Move peripheral and the navigation controller accessory. Some challenges control better than others: Running around blasting at aliens and explosive crates feels just as effortless it does in any Ratchet and Clank game. Maneuvering the flying discs Ratchet hurls into the air is more frustrating than intuitive.
The arena environments aren't expansive, but they're as beautiful and detailed as any of the levels in the characters' source games; better still, as you nail high scores and collect golden bolts, crystals and score multipliers to unlock more complex challenges, you end up experiencing new parts of them.