Software Review: Bolt is no Lassie

Bolt is little more than an arcade game meant solely for young devotees of the original movie.

cartoon dog 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
cartoon dog 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bolt, a DVD-ROM in English by Disney Interactive Studios, distributed by Atari-Israel, requires Windows XP and up and a Pentium 3.2 mhz PC or better, for ages seven and up, NIS169 Rating: *** Disney Studios in California usually invests a great deal of time, money and talent in its movies for children and teenagers (as well as the many adults who enjoy them). It's unfortunate that when the company farms out its videogame production to capitalize on its latest film, it doesn't devote the same. Bolt - a white dog with delusions of grandeur that he has superpowers of his own after starring in a TV show - is no Pluto, Goofy or Tramp - and certainly not Lassie. His owner is a girl named Penny who discovers that her scientist father was kidnapped by a villain named Calico to develop a deadly weapon (variations on this theme have been used endlessly before, as in Lara in Tomb Raider). Together, they cross borders and continents, visiting a Mayan temple in South America and other sites in China and Russia. Each of the characters can be played separately - and the scooter-riding Penny is certainly the more interesting one, having a "wheelbar" to help her climb and stick to objects. She is a bit more "intellectual," becoming invisible and using various benefits of stealth. The canine, who with his sharp teeth isn't the lovable type, is rabid in his activity, constantly attacking the enemies who want to prevent Penny from getting anywhere. As points enable Bolt to upgrade himself, he becomes endowed with "superspeed" and "superbark" (the latter topples walls and devastates the enemy); at a higher level, his eyes shoot laser rays. As only hinted by a warning on the box that the game "contains a description of violence," there are constant ferocity and assaults, albeit without any blood or body parts; the enemies, when killed, just fall down and quickly disappear. But parents should think twice if they want their seven-year-olds (or even eight or nine) to get into the habit of attacking other children - or dogs. I doubt whether anyone over 10 or 11 would be interested in it at all. The graphics are OK for small kids but nothing special, and some of the key combinations such as that for stealth attacks are uncomfortable for little fingers. The music is fine but the voice acting is weak. It will not keep children busy for more than four or five hours at the most. The bottom line is that Bolt is little more than an arcade game meant solely for young devotees of the original movie. Lassie, come home!