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The Polar Express

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The Polar Express is an adventure video game released in 2004 by Blue Tongue Entertainment. The game is based on the film of the same name.

Gameplay

The game closely follows the same plot as the film. One major difference is that the Ebeneezer Scrooge puppet plays a much bigger role. He is the game's main villain whose main goal is to keep the children from believing in Santa Claus by stealing their tickets and throwing them off the train.

The game features fifteen levels that are broken down into six chapters, giving the player the opportunity to explore areas like the train and the North Pole. The player controls Hero Boy in every chapter. Each level also features coins and toy parts which the player can collect.

A lot of the cut-scenes include scenes from the film.

Levels

Chapter 1: The Polar Express

  • Scrooge's Plan: After Scrooge steals everyone's tickets, the children go off to find them. Hero Boy decides to go help them. Along the way, they encounter some of Scrooge's friends who try to prevent them from retrieving the tickets. In the dining car, they start a food fight.
  • The Lonely Boy: The train passes Billy's house, so Hero Boy decides to pull the emergency brake and let him on. However, Scrooge is blocking access to the brake, but Hero Boy defeats him by throwing balls at him.
  • The Lost Ticket: Hero Boy continues to help the other children find their tickets, encountering more of Scrooge's friends, as well as an angry cook who was upset about what happened to the food in the dining car. Soon, everyone got their tickets back and went back to the passenger car.

Chapter 2: The Rooftop

  • The Rooftop Rescue: Scrooge was upset that everyone got their tickets back, so he steals Hero Girl's and sticks it to an air vent. As a result, the Conductor takes Hero Girl away. However, Hero Boy finds the ticket and goes after them by running across the cars while dodging the various obstacles in the way. He soon meets a Hobo.
  • Chasing the Train: The Hobo was impressed with Hero Boy's determination, so he decides to help him return the ticket by skiing down a hill as a shortcut to get to the locomotive. Hero Boy is responsible for steering them left or right to avoid hitting logs and trees by leaning.

Chapter 3: The Engine Room

  • Repair the Engine: Hero Boy lands in the engine room and finds Hero Girl driving the train while Smokey and Steamer, the locomotive's fireman and engineer, were fixing the headlamp. Suddenly, Hero Girl does something which causes a loud noise, but Smokey and Steamer arrive to fix it. 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: After the caribou clear the track, Smokey and Steamer need to get the train moving again. The Conductor asks Hero Boy if he could help and he agrees. He learns what to do after watching Smokey and Steamer then doing what they do. Soon, the train is moving again, but the Conductor was about to throw Hero Girl off the train until Hero Boy tells them that he found her ticket.

Chapter 4: Back on Board

  • Toys! Toys!: Hero Boy and Hero Girl were on their way back to the passenger car when they encounter Scrooge's friends again. Hero Boy defeats them the way he did earlier.
  • Scrooge's Last Stand: Hero Boy encounters Scrooge again, who has become vary large, so Hero Boy defeats him by throwing snowballs at his chest.
  • Hot Chocolate: After Scrooge is defeated, the Conductor invites the children to have hot chocolate and cakes in the dining car. However, they are short one waiter, so Hero Boy is asked to fill in. He soon learns how to serve the refreshments after watching the other waiter and then doing the same thing. After that, Hero Girl gives him a refreshment which she saved for him, then asks the Conductor if they could give some hot chocolate to Billy, to which he agrees.

Chapter 5: The North Pole

  • Runaway Car:: The train arrives at the North Pole, but Hero Boy and Hero Girl notice Billy staying behind, so they go to try to convince him to come. However, the car became a runaway, so Hero Boy uses the brake wheel to try to steer the car and prevent it from hitting pot holes and other cars in the way. Various jumps are also encountered.
  • North Pole Center: To try to get back to the North Pole Center, the children ride the pneumatic. They make sure it hits the right switches in order to switch the gates right. In the end, the pneumatic arrives at the factory.

Chapter 6: Race to Santa

  • Sorting Room: In the factory, Billy sees a present which he thinks might be for him and follows it, but loses Hero Boy and Hero Girl in the process. To try to reunite with him, they walk along the conveyor belts while also pulling levers to change their direction.
  • Inside the Sack: The children go down a big slide and land at the bottom of a big pile of presents. To find a way out of factory, they decide to climb the presents like a ladder to the top. Along the way, they encounter presents that bounce and elevate, but there are also vines to help them climb and swing across large gaps, as well as Jack-in-the-Boxes to help them jump very high.
  • Final Delivery: The presents, along with the children, are lifted in a bag by a zeppelin. The children are taken to the zeppelin where the captain, who initially seemed angry, was happy to have them on board because he needed someone to fly the zeppelin while he helps the other elves. Hero Boy agrees to do it, but he also has to avoid hitting the bridges, buildings, ships and hot air balloons in the way. Also, he has to do it under a time limit. They soon arrive at the North Pole Center where the captain returns and takes over the wheel.

Development

The game was first announced by THQ at the E3 convention in 2004. The PlayStation 2 version has EyeToy support. A Game Boy Advance version of the game, developed by Tantalus, was also in development.

Reception

Most versions of the game received negative reviews except for the PC version, which received mixed reviews.

Differences from the Film

  • The opening scene skips the part where Hero Boy watches Sarah get tucked in bed. This makes it more similar to the book.
  • There are several cars on the train in the game which are not in the film, including a separate dining car, a kitchen car and a couple of box cars.
  • No sentient toys appear in the film.
  • While the train does stop at Billy's house in the film, he still has trouble getting on due to having initially turn the ride down.
  • The Conductor says, "Who in the blazes pulled that cord?!" instead of, "Who in the blazes applied that emergency brake?!"
  • Hero Boy did not have to go across multiple cars to meet up with the Hobo because they were already on the same car.
  • The Hobo skis down the cars, not down a hill, to help Hero Boy get to the locomotive.
  • While Hero Girl forgets how to drive the locomotive, nothing she does in the film nearly causes the locomotive to explode. There is a deleted scene, however, called "It Takes Two," which does involve this.
  • In the game, the Conductor seemed to have already known that the caribou can understand Smokey's screaming.
  • The film does not involve Hero Boy helping Smokey and Steamer get the locomotive moving again after the caribou crossing.
  • 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 much earlier in the film than they were in the game. Also, Hero Boy is not asked to help.
  • The brake wheel on the observation car works like a normal brake in the film. Plus, the hill it rolls down is not as steep and there are no obstacles in the way.
  • The children do not use the controls on the pneumatic.
  • In the factory, Billy does follow his present in the film, but it does not get him separated from Hero Boy and Hero Girl.
  • When the children land in the big pile of presents, they are already at the top. The pile is also a lot smaller and has no presents that bounce or elevate.
  • The zeppelin flies higher in the film than it did in the game. Plus, the children were in the bag during the entire flight.
  • The game does not include the part where Santa Claus gives the first gift of Christmas.
  • All the events occurring after Santa Claus leaves to deliver the presents are omitted.

External Links

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