Taking into account that many people view artificial intelligence as sinister and slightly worrying, it's easy to forget that over the years we've been gifted with many loveable robots. Dusty Bin, Johnny 5, R2-D2 and Twiki all spring to mind and are solid proof that just because something is man-made, it doesn't mean it can't have a heart.
Disney Pixar's latest CGI box office smash adds yet another amiable metallic character to that list. Wall-E is a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class droid, a model of robot tasked with cleaning up the mess we self-centered humans have made of Earth in the near future. After years of pollution and people stubbornly refusing to recycle, the once-lush surface of the planet has been replaced by mountains of discarded rubbish and junk.
Being the selfish organisms that we are, the human race has fled from its now ruined home planet leaving obedient robots like Wall-E to clean up the chaos in the hope that one day the Earth might be fit for habitation again. There's just one small problem - the clean up operation has taken longer than expected and the army of droids left in man's wake has slowly died out, with Wall-E being the last of his kind.
However, a chance encounter with a recon robot named Eve and our plucky hero finds his world turned upside down. Cue a heart-warming story packed with many touching moments as Wall-E discovers there's more to his existence than just cleaning up our litter. Altogether now: Awwwww.
The general gameplay of Wall-E is fairly simplistic; you traverse the environment looking for various items that will enable you to pass through the many locked doors that prevent you from completing each stage. To do so Wall-E is often called to make use of his recycling capabilities; this amiable little droid is able to crush rubbish down into a perfectly sized cube which can be then used as a projectile to attack enemies or break open containers.
However, junk cubes are not the only variety you'll come across on your travels. Magnetic and explosive cubes do as their names suggest; hurling the former stuns enemies and attracts other cubes while the latter will deal out incredible damage to anything foolish enough to be in close proximity.
In addition to this, Wall-E packs a handy laser for slicing through obstacles and can also transform into a cube himself. This final skill is incredibly useful as Wall-E is able to charge forward like a battering ram and smash through certain objects.
When Wall-E eventually reaches EVE's home - the luxury space cruiser Axiom - the visuals shift from the grimy browns of the Earth's barren surface to the clean and shiny interior of the vessel. There are also some gameplay alterations; Wall-E is able to enlist the assistance of the ship's android crew, most of which have special characteristics that are extremely helpful to our robotic chum.
While much of the game is spent exploring, puzzle-solving and engaging in combat with enemies, there are occasional mini-games that prevent things from becoming too stale and repetitive. Spaceship Shootout sees you manning the guns of the Axiom as you attempt to destroy a certain number of targets in the allotted time. Heavy Traffic is a playful homage to the arcade classic Frogger, with Wall-E sprinting across a busy road. High Speed Flight pits you against a rival to see who can get to the end of the course in the quickest time possible.
To add even more variety, it's possible to play as Wall-E's object of obsession, EVE. As you might expect, EVE's levels are short and sweet and she doesn't take away too much screen time from our unlikely hero - which is just as well because her sections aren't particularly interesting or challenging.
Visually Wall-E is packed with detail. The Earth levels are generally decent but suffer from a lack of colour (not really the game's fault, to be perfectly honest), but once Wall-E boards the Axiom, things take a turn for the better with some highly detailed environments that really show off the PSP's polygon-pushing power, and give this version a crucial advantage over its far shakier DS counterpart. At times the visuals are a little jaggy and ill-defined but on the whole this is an excellent attempt at transferring the look of the film to the small screen of the PSP. The sound is similarly pleasing with Wall-E's quirky mutterings never failing to raise a smile.
We're accustomed to movie tie-ins being lamentable wastes of plastic, but Wall-E has come as a pleasant surprise. Granted, the gameplay isn't going to win any awards for innovation but it's fairly entertaining all the same and the 27 levels tend to be faithful to the flow of the film. Once the game has given up its secrets (which won't take too long) you have the option of setting records in the various mini-games, which helps bestow Wall-E with a tad more longevity.
Ultimately this is an encouraging use of a movie license that will keep younger fans content for quite some time. The lightweight challenge and general lack of originality might force the more mature gamers among you to look elsewhere but if you count yourself as a fan of the superb film then this is an worthy companion piece.