As is customary with the release of an animated film from a major studio, a related video game is simultaneously tossed at consumers. In the Wii’s Yogi Bear, we’re given a vanilla platformer based on the recent film based on the classic cartoon. Dan Aykroyd, who voices the titular Jellystone Park denizen, also lends his talents to the game, throughout which the player has to help Yogi and Boo-Boo snap photos of the park’s endangered animals in order to help Ranger Smith attract more visitors to the premises.
The gameplay is classic, side-scrolling action that takes Yogi through the park’s natural wilds, using belly-flop techniques to subdue skunks and porcupines, and vine-swinging to gobble up pies and snatch pic-a-nic baskets. It’s a game that we’ve all played a million of times—if not with Yogi, then with Mario, Sonic, and everyone in between. Gameplay in Yogi Bear is occasionally shaken up though. For example, at some points, you’ll need to surreptitiously sneak around some campgrounds without being seen by any tourists. If they spot you, they’ll freak out, call for the ranger, and you’ll lose a life.
In general, the game is certainly a played-out scenario to most gamers, but casual players who are less picky might not complain. The graphics aren’t bad, and there’s that recognizable Yogi charm sprinkled throughout (“A conveniently abandoned pic-a-nic basket!” and other cutesy cries, along with repartee between Boo-Boo and love-hate interactions between Ranger Smith). Younger gamers who are simply looking for something fun to play will be amused, too, and the game does entertain and challenge on a pretty basic level. Assuming they saw the movie and liked it, they’ll likely enjoy controlling the furry characters. Also, the fact that it’s a side-scrolling platformer with straightforward objectives and gameplay makes the game accessible to all types of players. But, again, while less experienced players may find challenge in a game some might dismiss as simple, advanced gamers will be looking for more complexity, variety, and toughness. Leaping from log to log and dodging skunk spray isn’t going to cut it for the veteran gamers among us.
There’s not much to separate Yogi Bear from the pack, which is an unfortunate trait among many games based on blockbuster movies. You’ll hold the Wii controller sideways (another nod to old-school side-scrolling games), and will utilize different techniques to help Yogi fend off baddies, like the belly flop, which resembles the ground pound technique from the Mario franchise. As such, Yogi’s attacks feel unoriginal and tired. I also would’ve liked to see smoother controls; Yogi’s jumping, for example, feels a bit sticky, and his movements within the game could’ve felt more fluid.
Yogi Bear certainly isn’t going to go down in any history books. Like other games of its ilk, it’s simply a supplementary moneymaker for its film inspiration. If you’re looking to buy someone a satisfying platformer for the holidays, you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a better title.