As video games go, Disney's Meet the Robinsons probably won't be mentioned very often in the same breath with such games as Jak & Daxter, The Legend of Zelda, or Tomb Raider. Nevertheless, it borrows heavily from those and other classic games, with generally solid results. It also does exactly what it's supposed to do, which is let players immerse themselves in the movie's futuristic world. The game revolves around the character of Wilbur Robinson, who uses a time machine to travel into the past and inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events that alters the future. You'll spend the majority of the game in that alternate future, using Wilbur's space-age gadgets to deal with the robot enemies and puzzles contained within each massive environment. You won't be impressed by the graphics, and the action will seem formulaic to you if you've been playing video games for at least a few years. But through sheer variety and a mother lode of charm, the game ultimately manages to be satisfying.
In the game, you use Wilbur's gadgets to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.
Structurally speaking, Disney's Meet the Robinsons is an action adventure that borrows heavily from genre-defining games (such as the aforementioned Zelda and Tomb Raider franchises). There are eight main environments, including the Robinson mansion in the year 2037, the science fair in the year 2007, and various twisted renditions of places in an alternate 2037. Each environment has multiple floors and areas that you have to get through, and each area has its own set of puzzles and enemies. Puzzles involve a fair amount of jumping, climbing, and sidling your way around the environment, as well pushing and pulling heavy objects. You'll also find yourself constantly using Wilbur's gadgets to manipulate objects in the environment. While you're doing all of that, you'll frequently encounter enemy robots that are programmed to attack Wilbur. Each enemy robot is vulnerable to a specific gadget. Some robots require that you use one gadget to reveal a weak spot, then another gadget to finish off the robot. Boss battles involve the same sort of gadget swapping, but they're more time consuming and visually more elaborate.
In all, you'll collect five different gadgets. The two gadgets that come into play most frequently are the disassembler ray, which can break apart certain doors and manhole covers, and the charge glove, which hurls electrical balls that can obliterate certain enemies. The disassembler ray and charge glove also have alternate uses. You can use the disassembler ray to reduce furniture and other decorative objects into spare parts that can be fed into a transmogrifier machine to build gadgets and upgrades. Meanwhile, the charge glove's electrical balls can activate distant switches that provide temporary power to machines and elevated walkways. Rounding out the list of gadgets are a scanner backpack that lets you scan enemies and structures to find weak spots to uncover hidden areas; a pair of havoc gloves that let you launch sonic shockwaves and dive underground; and a levitation ray that lets you lift enemies and heavy slabs into the air for short periods.
Minigames are thrown into the mix where you roll through obstacle courses in a protectosphere (think Super Monkey Ball), dig through underground mazes using the havoc gloves (think Dig Dug), and play a futuristic game of Pong against family members using the charge glove. These minigames are good diversions, but they're not forced on you so often that they wear out their welcome. You can replay them anytime you want. You're also free to hitch a ride on the monorail train and backtrack to areas you've already solved. Even though the layout of each dungeonlike area is straightforward, there are secret doors and chests hidden all over the place. Some secret areas can't be accessed until you acquire the havoc gloves or the levitation ray. Chests contain concept artwork, viewable action figures, and blueprints for building permanent health or energy upgrades using the transmogrifier, which means that the rewards for returning to "earlier" areas are actually significant.
You don't need to know anything about the movie to understand what's going on in the game. You play the part of Wilbur Robinson, a precocious teenager living with his family in a high-tech mansion. Wilbur and the other major characters are introduced in short order, while various minor characters make brief appearances throughout the course of the game. Incredibly, the game manages to present a story that's similar to the one from the movie without actually giving away the movie's major plot twists. In both the movie and the game, the mysterious Bowler Hat Guy steals the Robinsons' time machine and goes back to 2007 to bring about an alternate future. In the movie, a boy named Lewis is brought to the future, meets the Robinsons, and subsequently uses the time machine to undo some of the changes that the Bowler Hat Guy caused. The game tells the other half of the story and reveals what Wilbur was doing when he wasn't with Lewis. With the story put together in this fashion, the game stays true to the movie's story without recycling every single scene exactly as it was depicted in the movie. So, even if you have seen the movie, the game will still seem fresh to you.