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Alice in Wonderland





Alice in Wonderland 


Here comes another Tim Burton movie (starring Johnny Depp of course), Alice in Wonderland. The movie is getting major publicity, and the early reviews are looking good. How does the game fair, perhaps even better. Disney Interactive Studio was inspired by the movie, although it is not a retread of the movie’s story. It is obvious the movie reflects Burton’s imagination and creatively. From the opening music to the character designs, this game yells Tim Burton.

Play as the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, and other memorable characters from the film as you lead Alice “down the rabbit hole.” The object of the game is to collect puzzle pieces and put Underland back together, while protecting and leading Alice. At first I was surprised that Alice is not a controllable character, but this actually is a great design move by DIS. The focus was on making a game based on the movie ideals, but not getting tied to the movie’s plot and limiting the story of the video game. DSI did a great job of balancing the “inspiration” of the movie and creating a stand-alone game that is fun and entertaining.

Characters each have different skill sets and those skills are needed at different times during the game. If you are playing with one character and want to return later with a different character to a certain location, simply mark that location on the map for your reference, or switch on the fly between characters. While protecting Alice, gamers will need to solve mysteries, fight off enemies and help Alice around the Underland. Character interaction is through text on the bottom of the screen, so basic reading skills are needed to fully enjoy the game. Even with the silent characters, there are great moments of humor between the characters. 

The graphics in Alice in Wonderland on the DS are some of the best on the handheld to date. Environments and characters are simplistic, yet bring the world of Underland to life using a fantastic color scheme.  My first impression of the early screen shots left me wondering if the Burton imagination would successfully transfer to the DS, but I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The presentation, level design, along with the user friendly map layout makes for enjoyable gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, the controls scheme takes a little to get used to. The stylist is used to direct the characters around the screen. It is also used it fighting,  going through conversations and interacting with Alice. The basics come rather easy, but be patient when trying to master jumping and helping Alice up and across obstacles. There is nothing major that distracts from the game, but it may take a little while to get a handle on it and feel completely comfortable.

Now to my favorite part of the game - the soundtrack. I am a big believer in using music and sound effects to provide a better gaming experience, and Alice in Wonderland delivers in a big way. The music gives the sense that something strange and unexpected is around any corner.

Another aspect of Alice in Wonderland (as with other DSI games) is the use with DGamer. DGamer is an online community that, using the DS WiFi, allows gamers to connect with other gamers. This gives gamers the opportunity to chat with others and compare game progress and stats.

Parents will find Alice in Wonderland to be a popular request, but please keep in mind the rating of E 10+. Due to the nature of the presentation and dark imagery, this is not a game for younger gamers.

Gamers will need to use their problem solving skills to be successful with Alice and Wonderland. And if they can master the puzzles and mysteries, Alice and Wonderland will be hard to put down, just as it was hard for me.
- Alan


Graphics: 88%
Sound: 94%
Replay/Extras: 84%
Gameplay: 86%
Family Friendly Factor: 79%
System: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Rating: 'E10+' for Everyone 10+
{Mild Cartoon Violence}

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