SAN FRANCISCO--Starwave Mobile, Disney's mobile-publishing arm for properties that don't involve Mickey, Donald, and the gang, is really starting to pick up steam. It started the fall off right by unveiling a true-blue mobile version of Dragon's Lair. A month later at CTIA, its mobile game based on the upcoming Narnia movie is looking very promising.
The developer on the Narnia project, Seattle-based UIEvolution, was acquired by Square Enix last year. Therefore, the striking similarities we noticed between The Chronicles of Narnia and Square Enix's Final Fantasy Tactics aren't very surprising. The game's setup is an isometric turn-based strategy game, and the movie's main characters--the supercute Pevensie siblings--serve as the chief combatants.
We had a chance to watch the game's brief introduction, which featured a lot of exposition and was generally highly reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the GBA. The kids take their first steps as warriors fighting against a make-believe monster made out of a coat rack. This encounter serves as a quick tutorial. Then, it's into the magic wardrobe, and out into the wintery world of Narnia.
The Chronicles of Narnia seems to borrow a lot of Final Fantasy Tactics's interface touches. For instance, Peter Pevensie, who becomes a swordsman upon his arrival in Narnia, had an attack range of one square in each of the four cardinal directions. The game even uses Tactics's pyramidal marker to denote the character who is currently acting.
All in all, this style of gameplay should be a good choice for the Narnia license because it allows for plenty of storytelling along with the action. Also, from what little we saw of the game, the developer appears to have brought the look and feel of the classic Square Enix games to mobile very effectively. We'll learn more before the game's wintertime release, so don't miss our next preview.