Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, also known as Night at the Museum 2 in some parts of the world, was officially announced on April 7 2009. It was released on May 5 2009, in advance of Twentieth Century Fox’s highly-anticipated theatrical release of the same name. The game comes under the genre of action and has an ESRB rating of E10+. It is developed by Amaze Entertainment and Pipeworks Software, and published by Majesco Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox for the Xbox 360. In the game, Ben Stiller reprises his role in the film as the voice of Larry Daley. Featuring the same scenes as in the movie, the gameplay will require Larry to explore certain exhibits in the museum. Larry will also need to swing from hooks using a rope and a flashlight to activate different contraptions. In order to start a battle, Larry will have to lead his enemies to a certain painting or statue and activate it for the object to attack. In addition to that, Larry will also have the ability to pilot vehicles such as the Lunar Lander, a Pitcairn Autogyro and Rexy the T-Rex.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is a rather short game that features the prominent likeness of Ben Stiller. The game is said to be blandly innocuous with very awkward platforming but offers up a few clever gameplay mechanics which provide for doses of amusement. In the game, Ben Stiller’s character, Larry Daily the protagonist leaves the confines of the American Museum of Natural History for the expanses of the Smithsonian where Pharoah Akhmenrah’s evil brother, Kahmunrah is threatening to do evil things using the power of a magical tablet that brings museum exhibits to life. The game lasts for about two hours or so, during which Larry befriends Amelia Earhart, battles Al Capone from atop a skeletal T-rex, pilots a lunar module, and meets an electrifying Ben Franklin. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian also tries to incorporate an educational counterpoint by adding in random historical facts which appear during loading time. There is also a voice-over option which players can activate while exploring the galleries for a virtual field trip. However, younger players might get confused between fantasy and reality as there is an inconsistency between the information conveyed throughout the game. The main objective of the game is to gather the pieces of Kahmunrah’s table that has been scattered around in fragments, earning a different special power for every one you find. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian features scenes which are easy to figure out but cute and cleaver enough to appeal to the game’s younger target audience. Some of the other sequences attempt at injecting some variety into the game, but they are all of an inconsistent quality especially in terms of platforming. Not only that, the controls are said to be imprecise, causing a frustration jaunt across a series of aircraft while the vehicle-based missions prove to be as frustrating. The game also has poor ho-hum sound effects and week cartoonish visuals that are prone to slowdown and make matters worse.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is surprisingly self-aware (and I don’t mean the few times where the fourth wall is broken). It knows it’s a licensed game, and doesn’t try to be more than a light, entertaining little collection of gameplay moments. Because of this, and because it actually uses the Smithsonian as a proper set piece, the game actually ends up being fun. Not exhilarating, not mind-blowing, but surprisingly solid. Good job, Pipeworks, you made a game that’s educational, simple, and, best of all, never outstays its welcome. (IGN, 2009)