The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has gone from the pages of C.S. Lewis' classic book to the silver screen, and it's now available on the pocket-sized Game Boy Advance screen. The game is a simple action adventure with light puzzle-solving and even lighter beat-'em-up action. Young children, casual game players, and fans of the movie might find something to like here, but everyone else will find that the adventure is too easy and too short to be worth their while.
The game follows the movie, which in turn follows the book. The story details the adventures of four siblings--Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy Pevensie--as they go on a quest to save the frozen fantasy world of Narnia. The world is full of all kinds of exotic and fantasy creatures like wolves, giants, Minotaur, satyrs, bears, and more. The animals are all able to communicate with the Pevensies, although most would rather fight than chat. There are 17 chapters in the game, and depending on what's going on in the story, you'll control one of the Pevensies while the others tag along. Some missions require you to use only one of the children, but more often than not you'll have at least two children in your party.
Not that it really matters, because you can't switch characters on the fly like you can in other versions of the game. You are stuck controlling whichever character the story dictates, while the others mostly stand around doing nothing. Sometimes the artificial intelligence-controlled characters will attack enemies, or they'll stand behind a wall and twitch, but for the most part they just follow you around and get beat up. The lacking AI actually isn't much of a problem, because the combat in the game is very easy. You can usually just hit the A button repeatedly to attack your foes, most of whom will fall after only a few hits. You can also hold the attack button to do a charged attack, but that's rarely necessary. The kids can use special abilities, called nobilities, as well. Nobilities are learned by helping out various creatures that you run into throughout the game. There are more than a dozen nobilities in all. You can use them to heal your party, pick up boulders, repel enemies, and more. Certain nobilities are required to solve puzzles, so they do actually come in handy, even if you don't really need them in battle. Another reason the combat is so easy is that you constantly have tons of healing items. You can pick up candy, toast, tea, sandwiches, and more from chests that are liberally scattered throughout Narnia. These items come in handy, but they are completely expendable since you can just exit and reenter an area to collect the same items over and over again.
Items are useful for more than just healing, though. Since Narnia is basically frozen solid, the children will get cold if they stay outside for too long. There's a meter at the top right of the screen that shows how warm the children are. If the meter gets too low, the children's health will start to suffer. To warm up, you can drink tea or eat toast, or you can find some wood and start a fire to get warm. It may sound like a hassle, but you rarely have to worry about getting too cold, because a fire is never too far away, and you can easily stock up on tea and toast.
Although most of the game involves running around and beating up enemies, there are also some simple puzzle and spatial challenges to overcome. In one chapter you have to climb up an icy, windswept cliff while making sure to stay warm and avoid falling. Other times you might have to walk a careful path across thin ice, or push rocks and dig out snowdrifts to clear a path. None of this stuff is at all difficult though, and the only challenge is finding your way around. Some of the areas have plenty of twisting, mazelike paths that can sometimes be confusing. A map would have been a nice addition here, although you'll never be lost for too long.
The single-player game is a straightforward progression through the 17 chapters of the book. Some of the chapters only take a few minutes to complete, and you can easily finish the entire game in a few hours. If you're so inclined, you can connect with a friend to play in two-player co-op. It's slightly more interesting than playing by yourself, but the multiplayer is still nothing special.
Though the gameplay is rather bland, Narnia does look and sound nice. You play the game from an isometric perspective, which gives you a good view of the action. The various locales are all detailed and full of destructible objects like icicles and tree stumps. The characters all move fluidly, and although they are a bit bloblike and blurry, they look good for a Game Boy Advance game. Also, there is a great soundtrack from the movie and a respectable range of sound effects to accompany the action onscreen.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is actually pretty good as far as movie-to-GBA-game transitions go. But as a straight action adventure game it doesn't have much to offer. There are tons of better action adventure games available on the Game Boy Advance, which makes this game difficult to recommend even for fans of the movie.