Review – Alice in Wonderland [DS]

Posted: March 2, 2012 in DS, Reviews

“Inspired by” is normally another term for “copied” which initially feels the case with Alice in Wonderland but soon these feelings subside. As per the Tim Burton movie (which the game claims to have been based on) Alice is brought back to Wonderland/Underland ten years after her adventures in the Lewis Carroll books…

With no memory of her time there Alice has been summoned as she is the only one who can save Wonderland from the Red Queen and her pet the Jabberwocky. This game does draw you into the spectacle that is Wonderland, but it is not the colourful metropolis you may expect, or as the cover art might imply. Instead Wonderland is represented as a rather unusual colour scheme; a pitch black foreground with some pastel shades serving as the background. The main bulk of alternative colour is used as an indication of what character you will need to assist you.

Instead of playing as the titular character Alice, you play as one of four characters whom guide Alice, protect her and basically do all the work. The characters on offer are McTwisp the White Rabbit, master of time manipulation. Absolom the caterpillar has the ability to switch gravity at certain points. Able to flip the landscape 180° is the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat (which curiously does not have the trademark grin unfortunately) can make certain objects vanish and reappear. To begin with you start off with McTwisp but others join your party as the adventure continues with new abilities available for collection for each character after defeating enemies.

This gives a Metroidvania quality as you will find yourself coming back to earlier points in the game with a new ability to finally advance, even though each “levels’” map show a distinct linear feel. Soon you will be swapping between characters and their abilities quickly to solve puzzles before a kidnap attempt is made on Alice. Exploration is key in this game . To prepare for the cataclysmic final battle you must locate pieces of armour for Alice as well as the only weapon that can defeat the Jabberwocky – The Vorpal Sword. These are hidden throughout Underland and you need of all your puzzle solving skills to locate them. Exploration is further encouraged with the reward of Bonus Pictures scattered across the land, although they do not offer anything to advance the main quest but they are pretty to look at. To find your way around Underland you collect pieces of the Oraculum map, which resemble jigsaw pieces. Some of these can connect in different ways which offers a few shortcuts.

For such a flat coloured world it does exude a certain amount of charm. This provides some difficulty in that the majority of enemies are pitch black, just like the foreground, with only a coloured eye, similar to that of the Ing from the Metroid Prime series, and you have only a split second to react before taking damage. However there are so many opportunities to regain health and later expand it that “dying” isn’t much of a problem. The controls immerse you in a style reminiscent of the Zelda DS adventures, using the stylus as the main form of control, with an element of the Castlevania DS games in its display of the map. While this worked in Zelda, as you were in a 3D environment and you could prepare for what was ahead, in a simple 2D setting you’ll have to train yourself to hold your stylus a little further than what you may be normally comfortable with. It is a shame that the mysterious sounding music reflects the same quality as the landscape; to begin with you will find it new and unusual but later on it will just go in one ear and out the other as you will hardly notice it. Even more so than the environment because at least the pastel colour changes far more often than the music which only seems to change dramatically when you encounter some of the Red Queens’ guards, and it only takes a minute to take care of them.

DSi owners get an extra bonus, being able to use their camera to take pictures of certain colours which enable them to solve extra puzzles. This obviously presents somewhat of a cheated feeling for DS/Lite owners but the microphone is available for all to solve various puzzles. Due to the fragile nature of playing cards they will need blowing to move them out of your way or assist you somehow. Even some enemies are made of playing cards and after you strip them of their armour you can gust them away, but things will be rather hectic at the time so you will probably prefer to use another normal attack.

This is a game which does not take itself seriously, with characters pointing out to each other that they have exclamation marks over their heads as a sign of being able to use their power. As licensed games go this is most certainly one of the better ones that have been developed. It may not be the most difficult game or even the longest but it is a fun ride down the rabbit hole.

Gameplay 3/5
Playability 4/5
Sound 3/5
Graphics 4/5
Lifespan 3/5

A] Challenging gameplay
B] Changing characters/abilities to keep it fresh
C] Lots of exploration

A] Repetitive enemies
B] Landscape gets boring after awhile
C] Same with the music



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