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The Polar Express: The Video Game
VideoGamePS2
Developer Blue Tongue Entertainment
Tantalus (GameBoy Advance)
Publisher THQ
Distributor Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Director Douglas Carrigan
Engine RenderWare
Platforms Game Boy Advance
GameCube
PlayStation 2
Windows
Release dates GameCube
NA: November 2, 2004
PAL: November 22, 2004
GBA and PlayStation 2
NA: November 2, 2004
PAL: November 26, 2004
Windows
WW: November 3, 2004
Genre Action-adventure
Modes Single-player
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The Polar Express: The Video Game is an action-adventure video game based on the 2004 film, The Polar Express. It was developed by Blue Tongue Entertainment, published by THQ and is available on the PC, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, and PlayStation 2.

Gameplay

The game follows most of the main plot of the film. One major difference is that the Ebenezer Scrooge puppet, who only makes a minor appearance in the film, plays a much bigger role as the main villain with a goal to keep the children from believing in Santa Claus by stealing their tickets, thus getting them thrown them off the train so that they will not get to the North Pole.

The game features fifteen levels, which are broken down into six chapters, giving the player the opportunity to explore areas like the train, the North Pole and more. The player controls Hero Boy in each chapter. Each level features puzzle-solving and minigame-styled elements, as well as coins and toy parts to collect.

Several scenes from the film appear as cut-scenes.

Levels

Chapter 1: The Polar Express

  • Scrooge's Plan: The Scrooge puppet steals all the children's ticket and hides them. The children go off to find them while Hero Girl stays to distract the Conductor. Hero Boy also goes off to help the children. Along the way, they encounter some of Scrooge's friends who use various tactics to try keeping the children from finding the tickets, including hiding in a dark car and starting a food fight in the dining car. Know-It-All is one of the children who's ticket was stolen.
  • The Lonely Boy: The train passes by Billy's house, so Hero Boy goes to pull the emergency brake for him, despite the possibility of getting himself thrown off the train. However, Scrooge is blocking access to the brake and Hero Boy must throw balls at him to defeat him.
  • The Lost Ticket: Hero Boy continues to help the other children find their tickets. First, he plays tennis with a Jack-in-the-Box in a box car and sneaks past the cook, who was angry about all the food wasted in the food fight, in the kitchen car. Next, he clears a box car of mice (which turned out to be only toys) and uses an ice smasher to smash large boxes of ice, one of which has a ticket frozen inside. Finally, he fights some Jack-in-the-Boxes by throwing toys at them and hitting them with a big mallet. Soon, all the tickets were retrieved and everyone went back to the passenger car.

Chapter 2: The Rooftop

  • The Rooftop Rescue: Scrooge was angry that everyone retrieved their tickets, so he steals Hero Girl's ticket and sticks it to the air vent. Soon, the Conductor comes by to punch her ticket, but she could not find it, so the Conductor takes her away. Hero Boy finds the ticket on the air vent and goes after Hero Boy and the Conductor by walking across the passenger cars, dodging various obstacles in the way, including signals, bridge and water towers. Along the way, he meets up with a Hobo.
  • Chasing the Train: The Hobo was impressed with Hero Boy's determination and decides to help him get to the locomotive by taking a shortcut, which involves jumping off the train and skiing down the hill. Hero Boy was responsible for shifting his weight to the sides in order to steer them and dodge logs, trees, houses and icicles that are in the way.

Chapter 3: The Engine Room

  • Repair the Engine: Hero Boy lands in the engine room to find Hero Girl driving the train. Suddenly, Hero Girl does something which causes something to go wrong. Luckily, Smokey and Steamer return to the engine room to fix the controls. Hero Boy helps by grabbing the pieces that fall out and throwing the green ones to Smokey and the blue ones to Steamer.
  • Stoke the Flame: The caribou have cleared the track, but Smokey and Steamer had to get the train moving again. The Conductor, being impressed with Hero Boy's skills, asks if he could help them and he agrees. The goal of this level is to copy Smokey and Steamer's dancing moves, which involve digging and shoveling. Soon, the train is moving again, but since Hero Girl has still not has given the Conductor her ticket, she was about to get thrown off the train when Hero Boy saves her by giving her ticket back to her.

Chapter 4: Back on Board

  • Toys! Toys!: Hero Boy and Hero Girl were on their way back to the passenger car when they encounter the Jack-in-the-Boxes again. Like earlier, Hero Boy fights them by throwing toys at them. After that, they end up in the frozen room again. This time, they find a pair of ice boots, which Hero Boy uses to walk across the car and move the crates out of the way, clearing a path for Hero Girl, who slides across the ice, using the crates to steady herself. They also end up in the car with the mice, so Hero Boy catches them and throws them in the bin again, like he did earlier.
  • Scrooge's Last Stand: Hero Boy encounters Scrooge again, who has become very large since the last encounter. Hero Boy tries telling him that Christmas is more about giving and sharing than about toys, but Scrooge scoffs. Hero Boy defeats him by throwing snowballs at his chest, but has to resist the vibrations caused by Scrooge hitting the ground.
  • Hot Chocolate: After defeating Scrooge, the Conductor shows up and invites the children to have some refreshments in the dining car. The refreshments include hot chocolate and cakes. However, they are short one waiter, so Hero Boy fills in. He learns how to serve the other children by watching what the other waiter does and copying him. Afterwards, Hero Girl gives Hero Boy a refreshment she saved for him, then asks the Conductor if they could give Billy some hot chocolate, which he agrees to do.

Chapter 5: The North Pole

  • Runaway Car: The train arrives at the North Pole and all the children get off, but Hero Boy and Hero Girl notice Billy staying behind, so they go to try to convince him to come. However, Hero Boy accidentally steps on a lever which uncouples the observation car and causes it to roll down the hill. The children use the brake wheel to tilt the car and avoid hitting pot holes, oncoming vehicles and other passenger cars in the way. However, they cannot tilt it for too long or else it will fall over. They also encounter a lot of big jumps on the way. The car soon stops on a turntable.
  • North Pole Center: After witnessing the elves using the pneumatic, the children decide to use it to get back to the North Pole Center. The pneumatic has a screen which shows what color switch, blue, green or yellow, the player has to hit in order to switch the right gate. The pneumatic ends up stopping at a factory.

Chapter 6: Race to Santa

  • Sorting Room: At the factory, Billy sees a present that might be for him and follows it, but loses Hero Boy and Hero Girl in the process. The goal is to help them catch up to Billy by going through the factory along the conveyor belts. They can pull levers to change the direction of the belts. Each room has a tunnel which take the children to the next room and other tunnels which take them to a different part of the same room, the latter of which are marked by lights that are the same color.
  • Inside the Sack: The children go down a slide and land in a big pile of presents and must climb it like a ladder to get to the top and out of the factory. Along the way, there are several obstacles, including presents that bounce or elevate, as well as swinging vines which the player can climb or use to swing across large gaps and Jack-in-the-Boxes which allow the player to make tall jumps.
  • Final Delivery: The presents are lifted in a big bag by a pair of zeppelins. The captain, who initially seemed angry at the children for being in the bag, was actually glad to have them on board because he needed someone to fly the zeppelin while he goes to help the other elves. Hero Boy agrees to help, but he has to avoid hitting bridges, hot air balloons, ships and buildings to keep the bag of presents intact and arrive at the center of the city before time runs out. When they arrive, the captain returns to take over again.

Cast

Development

THQ first unveiled the game at the E3 convention in 2004. The PlayStation 2 version has EyeToy support, though they did not give specifics at the time. A Game Boy Advance version of the game, developed by Tantalus, was also in development.

Reception

The PC version received generally mixed reviews while the console versions received mostly negative reviews.

Differences from the Film

  • The opening scene is more similar to that in the book: the part with Sarah is completely omitted.
  • The train in the game has several cars that never appeared in the film, including a kitchen car, a dining car and some box cars.
  • No living toys appear in the film.
  • In the film, the train does stop at Billy's house. The reason why Billy had trouble getting on is because the train was already moving too fast when Billy changed his mind after initially turning it down.
  • The Conductor says, "Who in the blazes pulled that cord?!" after Hero Boy applies the emergency brake instead of, "Who in the blazes applied that emergency brake?!"
  • Hero Boy did not have to run across multiple cars to get to the Hobo because they were already on the same car.
  • Hero Boy and the Hobo ski down the cars, not down a hill, to get to the locomotive.
  • While Hero Girl was put in charge of driving the train in the film, she does not do something that nearly causes the locomotive to explode. The scene in the game, however, is similar to the deleted scene, "It Takes Two."
  • In the game, the Conductor already knew that Smokey's screaming could be understood by the caribou.
  • Hero Boy does not help Smokey and Steamer get the locomotive moving after the caribou crossing in the film.
  • Hero Boy gives Hero Girl her ticket after the Ice Lake scene, which is completely absent in the game along with the Glacier Gulch scene.
  • The children are served hot chocolate a lot earlier in the film than they were in the game. Also, Hero Boy does not fill in for a missing waiter and only hot chocolate is served.
  • The observation car's brake wheel is used as a normal brake in the film. Plus, no big jumps are encountered along the way and the hill in the game has parts that are not as steep as it is in the film.
  • The children do not use any controls while riding the pneumatic.
  • While Billy does follow his present in the film while in the factory, it does not lead to him being separated from Hero Boy and Hero Girl.
  • When the children land in the pile of presents, they are already at the top of it. Plus, none of the presents are bouncing or elevating and there are no vines. The pile also appears to be a lot bigger in the game.
  • The zeppelin flies higher in the film than it did in the game. Also, the children were never on board it.
  • The game does not feature the part in which Santa Claus gives the first gift of Christmas.
  • All the events occurring after Santa leaves to deliver the presents are omitted.

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