Ben 10 was a major part of my childhood. It was one of the first experiences I had with connected continuity in TV shows. Then they expanded the universe with Alien Force and Ultimate Alien. Both offered a relatively more mature storyline while keeping the spark of the original season. We then got Omniverse which I missed, and now we’re in the age of reboots. I can tell you now, the spark is still there, just buried under a layer of mediocrity.
We’ll start with the positives. Anyone who did watch the original series will be pleased to hear the original voice actor for Ben return with a voice which is always on the verge of getting annoying but never quite does. I was also really pleased with the rest of the cast, especially Zombozo. He was so much like The Joker that I had to check it wasn’t Mark Hamill. The cutscenes are well animated and full of bright colour and life, helping to push the story on. One problem is the detail on the faces of people seems a bit odd, with only a couple of lines defining facial features such as noses.
The humour is intact in the transition from TV to video game, with puns galore. So. Many. Puns. You’ll laugh once, smile another time and then quickly become sick of the repeated puns from the aliens in the levels. Thankfully, there’s also plenty of visual comedy from the Ultimate Abilities to Gwen being carried off, looking bored, by a giant bee. I never said it all makes sense.
Onto the combat now and it’s your typical button mashing gameplay. Keep pressing Y until the enemy starts a move and press X to counter. Sometimes press A to use your special move and press ZR once powered up (about once per level) to unleash your ultimate. It’s basic and it’s not particularly inspired but it does the job. However, I will give them credit for the different abilities (both A and ZR) for each hero, giving them all a lot more variety. Some are more exciting than others, with Grey Matter and XLR8’s being my personal favourites (a Zayra gravity orb and Neo slow-motion respectively) but they all help to break up the combat just enough to stop it going stale.
To allow for replayability, Ben 10 includes another two stables in the ‘licensed game’ area – person/ability specific areas and collectibles. The collectibles come in the form of Sumo Cards, in another nice nod to the series. Each hero can also be used to move into another, previously unreachable area. While it helps to force you to play as other heroes, it can be irritating to have to swap heroes just to move to another area and change straight back (the quick changes make it nowhere near as frustrating as it could be).
Finally, the graphics are fine. The game has a nice art style and lots of detail in the backgrounds, although the aforementioned lack of face detail is a problem. Another problem is the framerate drops. So far, I think they mainly happen when transferring from one square of the level to the next or with lots of enemies on screen. This is understandable, but if The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can run with little framerate issues then Ben 10 should be able to cope. It just makes the game feel sluggish and slower than it is. Sadly, it just highlights the quick development time of these tie in titles, which could be so much better.
Overall, Ben 10 made me nostalgic for the original series and caught my attention for the reboot. The gameplay isn’t particularly exciting but the humour and general feel of Ben 10 is still present. Due to the portability of the Switch, I’m slightly more forgiving with the level design. It suits a bus ride or the wait for dinner period of the day. I can recommend this for kids or fans of the original but get it on a sale.