On his epic 1965 live album That Was The Year That Was, the great Tom Lehrer included a song called “New Math.” The song parodied a now-obsolete and oh-so confusing attempt to change the entire way that mathematics were taught in the United States, to wit Lehrer’s chorus quipped, “It’s so simple, so very simple, that only a child can do it!” And that’s exactly how I felt when I inserted Ben 10: Ultimate Alien – Cosmic Destruction into my PS3: a game that is so simplistic, that I found it to be far-too-complicated for me to play.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the whole Ben 10 universe, it’s a franchise that started on the Cartoon Network in 2005 about a 10-year-old boy (named Ben!) who winds up with some alien thingy attached to his arm (LaserBlast?) that enables him to change into different critters and save the world (or something like that — hell, I never saw the show, so I don’t know). In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien – Cosmic Destruction, the latest of a series of video games based on the franchise, Ben — who is now in his mid-teens and has a more powerful arm-thingy, so he can turn into even more-powerful critters — and his crew trek across the globe in order to locate an extraterrestrial artifact that has the ability to save the planet from the titular Cosmic Destruction (a big, bad storm).
Sound like fun? Well, chances are that unless you’re under the tender age of 10 (or you’re a creepy man-child with a bizarre adoration of the series), you won’t find Ben 10: Ultimate Alien – Cosmic Destruction to be too terribly enthralling — or coherent, for that matter. As one can well expect, the game is targeted at its cartoon watching audience: kids that know these characters inside and out, and do not require the necessary amount of introductions or back-stories that a non-fan (or non-creepy, non-man-child adult, perhaps) would need in order to “click” with the game.
Which brings me to the gameplay itself. Ben 10: Ultimate Alien – Cosmic Destruction is easy. Very, very easy. And yet, it’s so damn easy that I found the controls to be infuriating. For starters, the game isn’t very interesting. Secondly, the various alien critter lifeforms that Ben can take on offer no real improvements on the whole. Put simply: your temporary foreign shell can provide you with the ability to get through a certain chapter, but when it comes to fighting a boss character, you’d do just as well to fight them in your regular Ben form. My biggest beef with the game is that the levels don’t autosave as often as they (idyllically) should — which is great for causing sporadic, labored breathing to occur when you have to restart a seemingly-simplistic level that a nine-year-old would whisk through in a few seconds flat.
In short: Ben 10: Ultimate Alien – Cosmic Destruction annoyed me; partially because I’m too old to really “get” it, but mostly because I lack the amount of patience and manual dexterity that a kid would need in order to get through it. So, please keep in mind that — although I’m giving it a glorious One Star rating — I am doing so with the implied knowledge that the kiddies will appreciate it much more than I could ever hope to.
Ben 10: Ultimate Alien – Cosmic Destruction is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Content Descriptors. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, PS2, PSP, Wii, and Xbox 360.