Ben 10 first hit television screens way back in 2005 and quickly became a smash hit for Cartoon Network, spawning three spin-off series, four movies, and eight games. It centres around Ben Tennyson, a boy who discovers a watch called the Omnitrix which allows him to turn into various aliens. The franchise had been dormant since 2014, however the series was rebooted in late 2016 with a heavier focus on comedy. This, of course, means that a brand new game based on the reboot had to be made to fully cash in on the brand.
Developer Torus Games has gone the beat-'em-up route for Ben 10, which complements the franchise really well. The combat here is kept relatively simple, but flows incredibly well. You'll be doing your standard attack with the square button, while pressing triangle when prompted will allow you to counterattack against an enemy who is about to strike. Each alien's attacks are unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on what enemy you're facing and your current location. Similarly, every alien has a special attack metre that gets filled by defeating enemies. These attacks vary wildly between aliens. For example, XLR8 is able to slow down time to dodge incoming strikes, Overflow uses his water to blast away bunches of enemy when you're surrounded, and Stinkfly expels a toxic gas throughout the entire area. All of these attacks capture the essence of Ben's aliens, and despite the gameplay being relatively simple, it adds an undercurrent of strategy and complexity.
You initially begin the game with just three aliens available, but are slowly drip-fed the rest as you progress. This decision works well as it allows you to get comfortable with a few aliens rather than being overwhelmed by choice. The implementation of special areas accessible only to certain aliens also does a great job in forcing you to explore the abilities of each alien. Many times you will come across special areas but not have the correct alien yet. These generally exist to hide away one of the Sumo Slammer collectible cards and promotes some replayability, giving a little bit of a boost to the game's very short three hour length.
As you continue defeating enemies your Omnitrix will fill up and eventually you can unleash your alien's Ultimate Power that clears the entire screen of enemies, handy for when players become overwhelmed by the amount of foes on screen or if their health is diminishing rapidly. Just like the special attacks, these moves are all faithful to the alien's counterparts on the show.
While defeating enemies fills up your attack metres it also provides you with currency, as does smashing various objects in levels. You'll come across mini-objectives throughout levels, too, asking you to beat a certain amount of enemies with one alien or not take any damage during one particular section, which provides you with even more currency. This can be spent on upgrades at stations you come across, allowing you to increase the strength of each alien as well as altering the effects of their special attacks. The upgrade system appears to be a bit of an afterthought, though. You'll be racking up so much currency that you'll have 90 per cent of the upgrades unlocked for all 10 of Ben's aliens by the end and it never felt as though these upgrades were doing much. The difference between a character with no upgrades and one that had been fully upgraded felt negligible at best.
As mentioned earlier, Ben 10 is very short and on top of that it's not very challenging. The game does feature a cool mechanic where if your health is depleted you will turn back into Ben and have to head for cover to regenerate health, but you'll rarely experience this because the game is so easy. No doubt Torus has scaled this difficulty to be perfect for young kids, but some difficulty options would have been nice.
One of Ben 10's greatest strengths is how well it mimics the look and tone of the show. The character models all replicate the show's new art style well, which isn't an easy thing to do considering the show is in 2D and the game is in 3D. All of the show's voice acting talent has also been included, giving the game an authentic feel and capturing the same tone of a typical episode.
Ben 10 is an enjoyable little beat-'em-up romp. All 10 of Ben's aliens feel fleshed out and vastly different from one another, and jumping from enemy-to-enemy in the fast-paced combat is suitably satisfying. Fans of the show will be thrilled with the faithful recreation of the show's art style and general feel. Unfortunately, it's a little bit let down by the afterthought upgrade system, incredibly short length, and non-existent difficulty.