As Everybody Plays' resident Ben 10 expert - thanks to many a morning spent in the same room as a cartoon-watching younger brother - we're your woman when it comes to the antics of the titular kid with the alien transformation powers. But nothing makes you feel quite as old as discovering the original Ben 10 series is now a whopping twelve years old - a run that earns it the prestigious title of being Cartoon Network's longest running show.
Based on the recent reboot of the original Ben 10 series, this all new game follows the titular Ben Tenneyson, a ten year old boy with the ability to transform into various alien forms, as he takes the fight to a selection of bad guys from the much-loved TV series. While on a camping holiday with his Grandpa Max and sarcastic sister Gwen, it doesn't take long before the trio find themselves running into trouble - first, they find the nefarious clown Zombozo stealing everyone's happiness, and then, no sooner is he out of the picture than Queen Bee and her Bug Gang kidnap his camping companions. Add in an altercation with the deadpan Weather Head robots, and Ben really does have his work cut out for him.
What follows is a fairly standard adventure game, with oodles of bad guys to beat up, a little light platforming and a handful of hidden collectibles to look out for along the way (Ben 10 fans will no doubt be aware of Ben's Sumo Slammer card addiction!). As you'd likely expect, too, Ben's alien transformations play a strong part in the gameplay too, gradually unlocking as you play through the story. Most transformations have a unique ability that comes in handy while you're exploring - for example, muscle-bound Four Arms is a dab hand at getting past locked gates (by brute force, naturally), whilst miniature alien Grey Matter is just the ticket for squeezing through small doors, and Wildvine swings from leafy pads like a bright green Tarzan.
Each of the ten different transformations have their own unique combat skills too, with the likes of Four Arms and Diamond Head being your go-to heavy-hitting melee guys, whilst Heatblast and Grey Matter focus more on ranged combat skills, taking down enemies from a distance. Special moves deal extra damage, perhaps curling up into a ball as Cannonbolt and running over any enemy that stands in your way, or letting out a cloud of noxious fumes as Stinkfly, while a chargeable 'Ultimate' move on R2 can wipe out all enemies on screen in one rather flashy hit. Combat is simple and button-mashy, but with ten different aliens at your disposal, all with different fighting styles, you'll soon find you're mixing it up all the time, and it never gets dull.
With certain enemy encounters - generally, more scripted scuffles against a huge mob of enemies in a fixed area - you'll be given an optional objective to try to complete. Perhaps asking you to pull off a certain number of counters (simply pressing triangle when the prompt appears on screen), defeat a couple of enemies as Heatblast, or knock out all the bad guys in under 33 seconds, completing a bonus objective will net you extra 'Boost Points' if successful. You'll accumulate a ton of these green orb-like 'Boost Points' as you play, both from completing optional objectives, as well as from defeating enemies and smash up the scenery, which can then be exchanged for upgrades on each of your alien transformations. Amping up your aliens so that enemies take more damage when thrown by Four Arms, or Cannonbolt can restore some health when he rolls over bad guys, it's a great way to either get more mileage out of your favourite characters, or make some of the weaker ones more effective (we're looking at you Upgrade).
In fact, perhaps the only real quibble we have with Ben 10 is its length. While it's certainly fun while it lasts, with only a scant six levels to play through here, you can see the ending credits within a few hours. Split up into three sets of two levels, each dealing with a different boss and his minions, there's a decent variety on offer in the stages, whether you're clambering up a giant weather station, or sneaking into the Bug Gang's hive, while the collectible Sumo Slammer cards hidden in each level do help add a bit of replay value to the levels, but it still feels a bit on the short side.
For the Ben 10 fan in your life, Ben 10 is a thoroughly decent game, with plenty of alien-infused bad guy bashing to be done, as you battle some of the series' best-loved villains in simple, button-mashy combat. With cutscenes and conversations with Gwen and Grandpa Max that are heavily reminiscent of the TV show, and plenty of banter and wind ups from Gwen along the way, it's really the length that's the only real downer here - although its budget-friendly price does reflect this.