If you can imagine pushing through a wardrobe full of clothes only to end up in a wintry world brimming with magical creatures, it's not so far of a stretch to envision that world inhabiting the even smaller confines of the Game Boy Advance. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is an upcoming game based on the movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis' cherished literary classic, giving us a chance to aid the Pevensie siblings on their quest to free Narnia from the influence of the dreaded White Witch. In a recent visit from Buena Vista Games, we got to see a demonstration of how the beloved source material is making the transition to a handheld universe.
If you're not up to snuff on your Chronicles of Narnia knowledge, here's the quick rundown: Four siblings are playing a bit of hide and seek, when one of them discovers that a large wardrobe in the house is a bit deeper than you'd normally expect. In fact, pushing past all the contents, the back of the wardrobe proves to be a portal to a land covered all in snow. This is Narnia, a world rife with magic that's currently suffering through a perpetual winter, thanks to the evil machinations of the wicked White Witch. The four children--Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie--were summoned to Narnia through the efforts of the great Aslan, powerful lion and guardian of that world. The family has the abilities hidden within each of them to help set the world free, and they set out on an adventure to come into their own and win the world back in Aslan's name. The GBA game is an action adventure based on this tale, or more accurately, how this tale unfolds based in the upcoming movie. The two should be very close, of course, and the game will feature both dialogue from the movie and the many locations the film will cover.
This is an action adventure game that will quite often feature a team-based gameplay style as the siblings travel together on their journey. In fact, the game will also have two-player co-op action, linked or wireless, with one player being able to take a default character and the second taking another. According to Buena Vista, both players will be able to roam the world freely. That is, you won't be tied to your adventuring partner as you both complete your objectives. But teamwork is how the Pevensie family does things, so you'll need to count on some help from your siblings.
We were able to see a brief bit of the introductory tutorial featuring Lucy and the satyr Tumnus, as well as another early segment with all four brothers and sisters crossing the snowy wastes, along with the helpful Mr. Beaver (who is an actual beaver, of course). A health meter was in the upper left of the screen, and a "cold" meter was in the upper right, showing how chilled the family was as they trudged through the snow, batting aside the occasional foe. Different items could help restore health and warmth (such as tea), and they could also gather around fires to warm themselves. Peter was able to grab a stick from the fire and use it as a torch to melt some ice areas, and we were told that later the children will gain the ability to create fires themselves, instead of hoping to find it. The combat involved simple stick slashes at foes, and you can also fill a "shield meter" that enables you to loose an attack from all four siblings at the same time toward a given enemy.
In addition to basic skills, the children will also earn special abilities, called nobilities, to help them in their quest as they fight against roughly 30 different kinds of creatures to win Narnia's freedom. For instance, the "great protector" nobility creates a shield around the character that will push enemies away. "Royal presence" will restore health, "Aslan's song" will call animals to help you, and so forth. There will be 17 chapters in the game, so you'll have plenty of time to learn and use all your skills to help the friendly denizens ward off the bitter winter.
The game looks to be coming along nicely, visually, with character portraits based on the movie actors, fairly detailed characters, and a good variety of fantastical creatures to battle, from giants to ankle biters. Mainly, the levels we saw were snow-covered and underground. However, we were told that as the game progresses, the seasons will eventually change to spring. Subsequently, the surrounding lands will alter in appearance.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe won't show up in theaters until December, but the GBA adventure is currently scheduled to arrive in November, which means you'll be able to cozy up to Aslan a little early. Stay tuned to this gamespace for the latest news, screens, and movies as the game approaches release.