So do aspiring Will Smiths think they have the things to join the Men in Black? Put on your black shades, enter the “recruiting program” at MIB Alien Attack and find out. With emitted laser guns, passengers travel in ultra-sophisticated vehicles through an alien-infested cityscape in New York City and rack up points by attacking otherworldly insects.
It turns out that these errors return. It’s time to zap or be zapped.
- Excitement scale (0 = Wimpy!, 10 = Yikes!): 2.5
- Smooth turns, loud noises, scary themes and characters
- Attraction type: interactive shoot-em-up dark ride
- Height restriction (minimum, inches): 42
- Driving Tip: Don’t bother repeatedly to pull the trigger on your zapper. Just keep the trigger on and you’ll constantly fire a steady stream.
- Location: Universal Studios Florida in Universal Orlando
Fake theme park nonsense
The fun begins outside the building. Designed as a cheesy and brave new world fair pavilion, circa 1964, posters and billboards announce the exhibition of the exhibition “The Universe and You.” A retro song plays as guests enter a stunning 1960s-era room.
A recorded voice begins a syrupy presentation about the search for life in the cosmos, but is soon stopped when Agent Zed (Rip Torn, reprising his role from the film) orders the “bushes” to enter a secret elevator. Once inside, Zed apologizes for the “bogus theme park nonsense.” It’s just a pretext to protect the identity of the dark MIB headquarters. You have to love Universal for his self-conscious and contemptuous sense of humor.
The elevator takes the recruits to the Intergalactic Foreign Immigration Services. Referencing the movie, the inner queue goes through a break room with astonishingly realistic and funny worm types. The students then go through Immigration Control, complete with big-screen video ads of an impending conviction narrowly avoided. Everything is in one working day for the MIB.
Once aboard the vehicles, the recruits enter a training simulation. However, after taking a few shots at pseudo alien targets, Zed breathlessly announces that an alien transport ship has crashed in Manhattan (Oh no! Why do these serious emergencies always show up in the middle of theme park rides? ?) Of course, it is up to the apprentices to defend the land from escaped insect prisoners. From then on, it’s a cacophony of alien critters, lasers, and vehicle spinouts. (When the insects are fired, the ride vehicles turn violently if they fire first.)
Be careful: as if the hordes of insects hiding during the cavernous ride are not enough of a challenge, the passengers in the vehicle driving alongside you are “really” insects in disguise. Of course, they think that you and the drivers of your vehicle are aliens too.
With aliens lurking everywhere, the game is difficult to control. Video game experts may have an easier time scoring points than those of us who weren’t weaned at Nintendo. The laser guns do not emit a trace, and the aliens do not have clearly marked targets. Insects respond more to shots around the forehead and chest.
It’s hard to focus on the game’s look too because the ride is packed with elaborate animatronics, richly decorated decorations, and crafty visual puns. (Keep an eye out for the alien bug with Steven Spielberg’s head.)
With all due respect to Shakespeare, when it comes to theme park rides, history is the issue. The latest whiz-bang technology wears out quickly if it doesn’t make for a great story. With its highly articulated animatronics, sophisticated ride-on vehicles, and an engaging and recognizable story, MIB is a lot of fun. It’s more ambitious than the similar Buzz Lightyear shooting attraction at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom (though the new Toy Story Mania at Disney Hollywood Studios has a more engaging gameplay).
Although the attraction has aged, and MIB movies are getting tougher, we consider MIB to be one of the 12 best games at Universal Orlando.
Like many attractions, MIB has a high-impact straight ending. Taking the guests literally into the belly of the beast, they have to fight their way through with the main artillery. (Hint: This is the time to use that flashing red button on the dash of the vehicle. Hit it before others in your vehicle and you will get a big bonus).
Depending on the collective score of each vehicle, the trip offers multiple endings. Unless you’re a seasoned gamer, Will Smith is likely to bid you farewell to losers: a condescending, “Better luck next time, Slick” before he “neuralizes” you. Then again, maybe you have better luck, scrubs.