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Enchanted Package Art
GENRE
Action Adventure
DEVELOPER
Altron
PUBLISHER
Disney Interactive Studios
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
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Enchanted

When Disney's Enchanted arrived last year, its story was both spoof and homage to classic Disney tropes: a daffy yet determined princess, a talking animal sidekick and a loyal, heartsick prince. The spoof arose from these animated cliches getting transported to modern day, real world New York City, wherein the characters became true humans and animals but maintained their gee-golly perspectives while sardonic New Yorkers frowned and scrutinized them. This contrast created a movie that could work for both Disney fans as well as cynics who would love nothing more than a roast of tired Disney formulas.

By that extension, the DS game with a big ol' princess photo on the cover also seeks to be more than the sum of its progenitors: it's a girlie game about housekeeping, singing and dressmaking, but it's also a boy game of sword combat and an animal lover's game of frenzied platforming. Unfortunately, this ambitious design decision results in a game that strives to be more than a typical movie license but falls short in each execution.

visuals

Developer Altron had a big challenge designing Enchanted: the game required environments that either looked like a Disney cartoon or real world New York City. For a 3D DS game, the visuals are a relative success. The large levels are very colorful whether fantasy or realistic. Granted, this being a game with N64-level graphics, the contrast of the two worlds isn't nearly as striking as in the movie, but the idea is clear and reinforced by the character portraits and static cut scenes that flip from cartoon style to low-color JPEG photographs depending on the setting. Even the character models are distinctly different in real world New York versus fantasy land Andalasia: Princess Gisele is suitably waif- and Barbie-like in her cartoon land, but more realistically proportioned in New York.

For a game based on a movie that's part cartoon, it's a shame there's no FMV included on the game card, but the 3D engine probably took up most the space available. Because of this, muddy stills from the movie set up dialogue and purpose between game stages.

audio

As with the visuals, there isn't any audio directly imported from the movie. Instead, string- and organ-heavy synth replays the main songs and soundtrack of the movie against the game's levels. When Gisele crawls on to a makeshift stage to sing a song, synth choral "ahs" plunk out the melody in place of a real voice. The strength of the original compositions keeps the spirit of the music in tact and pleasant enough to rekindle memories of how things sounded in the film.

gameplay

The gameplay for Gisele, Prince Edward and Pip the chipmunk are described as distinct "worlds" in the video game manual, perhaps in a way to emphasize the difference in experience. Yet no matter the activity, all three characters suffer from the same downfalls: repetition, iffy control and laborious, unfocused level design.

Gisele's gameplay is perhaps the most ridiculous and laughable of all, which is a shame considering she's the main character. Altron made an inspiring decision to allow her to create her own dresses and other items by stylus-spinning materials in a giant mixing barrel, but everything else is a little odd. There's a humorous moment in the movie when Gisele decides to clean a room in true Disney Princess cum Domestic Goddess fashion, but it's ridiculous and near insulting that video game Gisele's world revolves around housework.

While inexplicably imbued with hyper-fast cartwheels and acrobatic moves, Gisele's main talent, and perhaps obsession, is cleaning spider webs and sweeping up leaves. Whether she's in the forests of Andalasia or the streets of New York, there's always one more pile of leaves or a spider web to sweep away. In one unintentionally laugh out loud moment later in the title, Gisele goes off-script from the movie and announces a fabulous party she remembered in Andalasia: you guessed it, this party was all about cleaning the forest, and gamers are sent on another muddled housework trip through Andalasia. Fortunately, stylus-sweeping messes provides a large cache of dressmaking materials, such as spiders, honey and apples.

A growing cadre of animal sidekicks assists Gisele as she progresses: mice can chew away walls, bluebirds can fetch items or dizzy enemies, and heavy bears provide weight on switches Gisele's too light to depress. Animals are summoned and given orders with stylus taps, and figuring out which animal should assist in one spot or another (when not prompted by on-screen icons) is a bit fun. The animals are even different in New York: the cutesy birds and bears are replaced with crows, rats and rottweilers.

Last, Gisele will find flower-laden stage platforms scattered throughout New York and Andalasia. She will eagerly scramble on to the stage to sing a song, which requires a steady hand tracing of a shape, such as musical notes or a square. Once a shape is successfully traced, Gisele sings a snippet of a tune from the movie and is granted a temporary special ability, such as even faster movement, the enemies being saddened to a halt or even the ability to walk on water. The song and power granted depends on the dress Gisele's wearing: ironically, the wedding dress provides the song that depresses everyone.

Prince Edward's gameplay is a stark contrast but still in the overall foundation of walking through a linear 3D environment, with the exception of a couple side-scrolling horse race levels that require ducking under and leaping over obstacles. Predominantly, though, Edward journeys the streets and sewers of New York in pursuit of his fiancée Gisele, slaying slime monster after slime monster after slime monster. Swordplay is interestingly carried out via tapping and tap-dragging of icons on the touch screen, rather like Elite Beat Agents. Successfully sliding sliders in order, or tapping enough falling stars, will cause Edward to successfully execute slashes and stabs against his enemies. If he fights well enough, he'll even get to execute a Disney-fied finishing move of sorts that takes place in an alternate, psychedelic dimension and is surprisingly violent (though bloodless) for a Disney game.

Pip is the runt of the playable characters, being a chipmunk, and so too is his gameplay, which is primarily timed, maze-like platforming levels requiring hops over and under painful hazards. Pip mainly tries to get through his stages as quickly as possible, though there's no penalty for taking your time. The rodent has an uncanny ability to cling to surfaces like Spider-Man, and like Gisele is obsessed with plucking bouquets of flowers anywhere they may appear, be it in a forest or sewer system.

Altron had no shortage of ideas to spice up its take on Enchanted, and the unexpected bits like dressmaking, singing, finishing moves and maze races show an attempt to give gamers more for their money. Yet the problem is the activities aren't novel enough to be compelling for a long period of time, yet the stages the characters must traverse are often so mammoth and maze-like that children may feel unjustly punished just trying to get from A to B. Yes, there's a linear nature to Gisele and Edward's stages, but it's easy to waste much more time than needed taking the wrong path or having to backtrack endlessly in an effort to find the exit. Sword fighting (or enemy avoidance in Gisele's case) grows quickly tiresome, especially when the best way to go is unclear and often blocked by vague checkpoint requirements or 20 more slime monsters that must be defeated before the game will continue. Last, and perhaps most crippling, the characters are a little too twitchy in their movement, making lining up with a pole to slide across or perfectly landing a small platform far too difficult given the target audience.

multiplayer

Those infatuated with the item making element of Enchanted can wirelessly connect with a friend who has the game and trade items like the aforementioned apples, webs, spiders and flowers. Otherwise, there's no actual gameplay between friends for this title.

overall

Enchanted the movie did a respectable job appealing to more than its target demographic. Altron made a worthwhile effort to repeat the spirit of this endeavor with the video game adaptation but unfortunately fell short. Enchanted the game probably wouldn't be as satisfying had it focused on just one of its experiences, since individually they're quite mediocre, but a collection of so-so experiences doesn't make for a great overall game, either. Fans of the movie would probably get a better investment by buying the movie's DVD instead of this DS title.

final score 5.8/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar M. Noah Ward
Staff Profile | Email
"Death narrowly avoided, thanks to another friendly NPC."


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