If you’ve seen Wreck-It Ralph you know it’s the sort of movie that makes you want to crawl into its world and live there, or at least have a good long visit. Just don’t get yourself killed outside of your own game, of course. Well, I can’t get you into Game Central Station (maybe we need to talk to Kevin Flynn about that?) but there are a few slightly less immersive ways to dive into Ralph’s world: a couple of apps and a gorgeous hardcover book.
I already mentioned the Wreck-It Ralph app that lets you play Fix-It Felix, Jr. as well as a simplified dual-stick Hero’s Duty and a Sugar Rush–themed jumping game. There are two more apps for fans of the movie. The first is the Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe. At $6.99, it’s not a cheap app, but it’s a combination of storybook and videogame — and here’s where you finally get to play the Sugar Rush racing game.
The storybook portion of the app has narration (which at times uses clips from the movie for dialogue), or you can record your own narration to play back. Each page has some sort of extra: a clip from the movie, some animation that can be triggered, and so on. There are a couple of pages that incorporate the webcam so that the reader’s face is projected into the book, like this one featuring the “First-Person Shooter” from Hero’s Duty:
In later sections, after you’ve met Vanellope, she sometimes peeks in on the edges of the screen. Tapping her makes her pop onto the page to make some comment about the story. It’s a cute storybook that boils the movie down to a picture book format. My only complaint is that sometimes the page-turn controls seem a little weird, like it can’t tell if you’re trying to turn the page or activate the animated features on the page.
The Sugar Rush racing game has been my kids’ favorite lately. As racing games go, it’s not fantastic — the tilt controls are pretty mushy — but you do get to play as a few of the prominent racers in the movie (Vanellope, Candlehead, Taffyta, and so on), each with their own power-ups. (Yes, Vanellope has a glitch.) The third racetrack includes portions of the track from the movie, with the gumball canyon and swirling layered cake, although you don’t race against King Candy in the game. Also fun is the bake-your-own kart feature, which lets you pick a chassis, wheels, spoiler, and then decorate it with icing and sprinkles. I haven’t been able to figure out how to delete any of the karts my kids have made, but so far that’s not much of an issue.
The Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic is a prequel of sorts, telling the backstory behind Sergeant Calhoun and the cy-bugs. The comic shows her first encounter with the bugs, and also goes into their origins — and, of course, we get to meet Dr. Brad Scott, the guy in Calhoun’s flashbacks. The comic is done as a straight sci-fi adventure without reference to it being inside a videogame. I should note that there is some PG language in it (and, of course, giant robotic bugs and lots of gunfire). The “interactivity” is limited to panels that are animated as they appear — sort of a partial motion comic. The 22-page comic is $1.99 on iTunes.
Finally, if you just can’t get enough of the look of Wreck-It Ralph, then you should definitely take a look at this book: The Art of Wreck-It Ralph, by Jennifer Lee and Maggie Malone. Lee was one of the writers for the film, and Malone is Director of Development at Walt Disney Animation Studios. The book is a fantastic collection of character designs, setting designs, and storyboard art.
I love books of concept art, and this one is no exception. You get a closer look at most of the main characters: Ralph, Fix-It Felix, Jr., Sergeant Calhoun, Vanellope Von Schweetz, King Candy. You also get a few pages of the Nicelanders, the Sugar Rush citizens and racers, and the humans in the “real world.” And, of course, there are chapters devoted to the settings: Ralph’s world, Grand Central Station, Hero’s Duty, and Sugar Rush.
The section of paintings and designs for Hero’s Duty looks like something out of Halo or Mass Effect, and it’s clear where their inspiration came from. It’s amazing how much went into the design of the world that didn’t even make it into the movie. Maybe eventually somebody will take the concept and create an actual console game from it — we’ll see. The Sugar Rush chapter will have your mouth watering, particularly the photographs of Brittney Lee’s models of the world made from actual candy and food.
Finally, there’s a section at the end called “Bonus Level: The Lost Characters” which talks about things that were cut from the movie (like a cover band called Arcade Fireballs). I do wish this section had been a little bit longer with some more details, but it’s fun nonetheless.
The one thing I didn’t get enough of was a section about other videogame characters. Aside from a two-page spread about Pac-Man (which includes the bad guys in the Bad-Anon meeting) and another about Tapper’s, there isn’t much about all our other beloved videogame characters that make cameos in the film. In a movie that plays so much to our videogame nostalgia, this does seem like a bit of an oversight, though the book is largely about the visuals and tends to let the images tell the story rather than using a lot of text.
The Art of Wreck-It Ralph is a nice hardcover coffee table book, and would make an excellent gift for any fan of the movie. Since it does give away some key plot points I’d recommend saving it until after a viewing, but it’s certainly a treat.
Wired: 150+ pages of stunning visuals from a fantastic movie.
Tired: Not a lot of text; old-school videogame characters are noticeably absent.
Disclosure: GeekDad received promo codes for the apps and a review copy of the book.