Miraculous: The Rise of Sphinx – A nose for miracles

Insect and cat fight an Egyptian monument

French animated series Miraculous gets a current gen game release. Can Ladybug and Cat Noir save the day on console?

My kids are quite partial to Miraculous, an animated series featuring the adventures of Marinette and Adrian who transform into superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir. It has a magical girl theme about it, with various ancillary characters being transformed into supervillains based on negative emotions by the evil Hawk Moth before they are thwarted by the heroic pairing. It’s pretty standard kid fare, but it’s become popular enough to warrant a major console release this year in the form of Miraculous: The Rise of Sphinx.

The plot is reasonably similar to the show, with characters being turned evil by magical moths before being defeated by the heroes in each stage. Over the course of the game you’ll be introduced to the titular Sphinx, a new character that spreads negative emotions making Hawk Moth capable of turning even more people evil. You’ll face off against previously featured enemies in themed stages before finally taking the fight to the new foe themselves and save the day in the most heroic way.

Miraculous The Rise of Sphinx
Each boss has a unique way of taking them on. Gamer has you doing a quiz about the show.

In spite of this featuring a slew of historical enemies, the only heroes on display are Ladybug and Cat Noir themselves, so don’t expect to be playing as any other major characters introduced in the show. Each stage is themed around the villain you’re currently facing, and whilst the actual gameplay in each level is pretty much the same, the retheming does enough to keep things interesting. 

As you navigate the rooftops of Paris via some light platforming, you’ll be confronted by small groups of enemies. This is somewhat at odds with the TV show, but I suppose something needs to break up the jumping and running segments of the stages. The fighting plays like a very loose version of the Arkham system, with you able to strike, dodge and counter based on prompts that appear above an enemy’s head. When I say loose, I really do mean it too. The controls feel quite floaty and unresponsive rather than the snappy reactions you get in better games that use the system. Whilst my older child had some fun with it, I found it quite frustrating that inputs weren’t registering nearly as quickly as I thought they should. She also became irritated when she felt that she had countered an attack only to take damage.

The bosses are much better though, with each battle being themed around the boss themselves. Weredad is obsessed with paperwork, and you need to sneak around stacks of files to get your attacks in, whilst Gamer 3.0 has you answer questions in a quiz format. It’s a nice way of keeping things interesting after slogging through sloppy combat and loose platforming.

Miraculous The Rise of Sphinx
The stages play in mostly the same way, but they’re at least visually unique.

The real issue with the gameplay though, is the camera. Not only is it uncooperative as you navigate the levels, you can’t actually move it manually beyond zooming in and out a little. This is hugely frustrating when platforming, as trying to gauge heights and distances without this capability is far more difficult than it should be. Thankfully, checkpoints for falling are normally very close by, but on occasion a fall drops you right back to the start of a platforming area, forcing you to work through it again. It seems like such a bizarre omission for a 3D platformer considering how far the genre has come.

Between stages, Marinette and Adrian wander around Paris, talking to other characters and completing little fetch quests to progress the storyline. I’m sure those who are fans of the series will like seeing the characters they know going about their business. It’s a shame these sections aren’t voice acted, as the scenes in the levels themselves are. There’s rather a lot of text here too, so if you have a child who just wants to get into the action, they’ll need to sit through a lot of reading too. My daughter was quite happy to read here, but I appreciate it won’t be for everyone.

Now, the sound is quite good, although you’ll probably get a bit fed up of the music between stages. In the levels themselves, things are reasonable, with suitable thwacks in combat and the occasional comment from Ladybug or Cat Noir. You’ll probably hear the same line countless times, but it’s nice that they’re voiced. The visuals are a bit sloppy by comparison, with a lot of flat textures and an inexplicably shoddy framerate considering the graphics are quite weak for a current gen game. Seriously, during one of the boss battles, when the camera showed a wide shot, it was dropping to single figures which is unacceptable at this point. Even my youngest said the screen looked jumpy whilst he watched his sister play.

Miraculous The Rise of Sphinx
I’m not sure if this is deliberately meta or not.

Miraculous: The Rise of Sphinx is a nice enough game for youngsters who like the show, but it’s not going to appeal to anyone else in the slightest. The weak combat and repetitive platforming aren’t terribly exciting, but the inclusion of series favourites like Mr. Pigeon will get the attention of fans of the series at least. I feel like there’s the idea of a good game in here, but it needs a lot more work from developers to bring something like this to life. If you’re looking for a miracle, this isn’t it.

Miraculous: The Rise of Sphinx is available now on Playstation, Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

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