Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure is a video game that cost me a friend. I requested the game, and it finally showed up in my inbox shortly after its release. Of course, the time it showed up overlapped with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game my friends and I wanted to play together. “Come play with us Sam,” they said, and I wanted to. But I had to play Scrat’s Nutty Adventure. The next day one of my friends removed me because I never played with them in favor of playing bad kids games. So I hope this review is worth it.
For those unfamiliar with Ice Age, it’s an animated movie series that debuted in 2002 to general critical praise and financial success. It then had four sequels each of which received less critical praise, but still made money. I saw the first one in theaters as a kid and generally have positive memories of it, but never felt the need to see any of the sequels. It seems a bit weird an Ice Age platformer would suddenly be released in 2019 considering the last film came out back in 2016. However, here it is. Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure focuses on the titular Scrat, a “sabertooth squirrel” that had a very minor role in the first movie as some physical comic relief but got larger roles in each subsequent movie because he was basically the franchise’s version of Minions.
Get Ready for Deep Ice Age Lore
At the beginning of the game, Scrat is hunting for nuts when he comes across a “Scratazon” ruin. It turns out Scrat is part of an alien species made up of little squirrel men and weirdly sexy squirrel women that look like they belong on a FurAffinity page. The Scratazons ask Scrat to collect four crystal nuts so they can once again return to a golden age. That is about the extent of Scrat’s Nutty Adventure‘s plot. If you’re wondering what this has to do with Ice Age then join the club. Maybe it ties into some deep Ice Age lore I know nothing about. After all, I never saw any of the Ice Age sequels. If I was a cynical man I’d say Scrat’s Nutty Adventure‘s plot was very quickly thrown onto an already existing 3D platformer to quickly give it the Ice Age IP to sell. Thankfully, I am a cynical man, so I’ll say exactly that. Do any characters from Ice Age show up besides Scrat? Yes, actually! Remember those two rhinos at the beginning of the first movie that was quickly used as a “haha making fun of gay people is funny” joke? They’re a totally random boss fight here. That’s about it.
The absolute basic gist of Scrat’s Nutty Adventure is that it’s a 3D platformer where you need to go through the stages to get to the end and find a crystal nut. Being a platformer, you need to jump on platforms to do this. At the start of the game, Scrat only has a single jump. By the end, he has a double jump and a couple of abilities that only work in contextual sections and perform very specific actions. Simply put: the platforming is boring. There’s not a single thing interesting about it. Almost all the platforms are so big it’s nearly impossible to miss jumping on them, giving the game absolutely no challenge as well.
The real challenge comes from actually finding the platforms. The camera is so imprecise and wild that I could never figure out how I was supposed to actually use it. There is an absolutely massive dead zone that any sort of minute adjustment is impossible. Then the camera goes from nothing to super fast as soon as you manage to figure out when you can turn it. More than once I had to spend a large chunk of time standing in one place and just trying to get the camera pointed to where I want to go next. It doesn’t help that, if Scrat is next to a wall, the camera will often get stuck on it, constantly doing little other than flipping the picture 180 degrees over and over while reversing the controls and making it overwhelmingly difficult to escape from this situation. The camera is the real villain in Scrat’s Nutty Adventure.
The New Uncharted Sure Looks… Unfortunate
There’s also some combat; not like any of the enemies are threats anyway. Scrat has some basic attacks, a ground pound, and the ability to throw rocks. The last one is the most important. Most enemies can’t leave or even use ranged attacks outside of, a specific area. You can, however, throw rocks at them from outside this area. Almost every single fight can be won by just sitting outside of the area and throwing rocks at enemies until they die. During the rare moment where you can’t do that then the other best strategy is to spam the ground pound ability. Unlike normal attacks, this ability can actually hit enemies through their stun animations, which makes it hilariously overpowered.
There’s also a trio of boss fights in the game, each of which plays the exact same. Every boss uses basic attacks until you throw enough rocks at them, then they use their super attack. If you dodge that you can punch the boss about three times. Eventually, it gets up and becomes invincible, stomping around a bit before you can hit them again. The last boss changes this up by also including a button-mashing minigame. There, I’ve just won every boss battle in the game for you.
Each level also ends with a unique segment that includes things like Scrat throwing himself off of a cliff to skydive or Scrat using a piece of ice to snowboard. The ideas aren’t bad, but in execution all this means is you move Scrat around the screen to avoid things. Usually, they’re so easy to avoid you can set your controller down during this section, walk away to make yourself a sandwich, then come back later to find you’ve won.
Just Crush the Squirrel, Please
It took me about three hours to finish Scrat’s Nutty Adventure, which honestly feels about three hours too long. If you really hate yourself, you can replay earlier levels with the context-sensitive abilities you’ve unlocked, letting yourself access new places to find collectibles. If this was a fun platformer I would find it a delightful addition that adds replay value to the game. However, in a game as absolutely terrible as this one, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to spend time doing this.
Look, I already know the response to this. Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure is for kids, so it doesn’t matter. You know what, you’re right, it is for kids. But just because it’s for kids doesn’t mean they deserve a super low-quality product phoning it in on a known IP. Concrete Genie is prime for younger audiences, but it tackles deep and important subjects while combining the ability to be creative with fun gameplay in a way that can draw (pun intended) anybody in. Knights and Bikes is for kids, but it’s a meaningful game about growing up and allows two friends to play together with joyful top-down action combat. Scrat’s Nutty Adventure thinks kids are stupid and will just accept trash because they know the squirrel from the movies. Your kid deserves better.
Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.