Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a simple action game based on the children's movie of the same title that was quietly released in the summer of 2003. Though the game features some competent gameplay mechanics and attractive graphics, the extremely short campaign mimics the film's brief theatrical run a little too well, as it's gone almost before it starts.
The problems begin before you even open the box. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is rated Teen by the ESRB, but clearly, this is a game aimed at the same younger audiences that saw the PG-rated film. The very light and cartoonish violence in the game left us wondering how Sinbad could have earned the same rating as many explicit shooters, but no matter how you rationalize it, there's got to be something amiss when a game's rating does not match its target audience.
Once you get started playing, you'll find that the developers have done a pretty good job with Sinbad's graphics. Though the animation isn't always crisp, the vibrant colors and the artistic settings and character models do resemble the film that the game is based on. The game's music is appropriately epic, but it's disappointing that none of the stars (Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer among them) who lent their voices to the film did any voice acting for the game. In fact, the game is devoid of any kind of spoken dialogue whatsoever. The plot is advanced instead by comic book-style panes and scrolling text in between missions. Like the Teen rating, the abundance of written text seems somewhat strange for what's basically a children's game based on an animated cartoon.
The game follows the same plot as the movie. You take the role of the legendary swashbuckler Sinbad, who has been framed for the theft of the Book of Peace, which protects the city of Syracuse. The actual culprit is the goddess of chaos, Eris, and it's up to you to seek her out and return the magical Book of Peace to its proper place.
The gameplay mechanics are surprisingly decent for a movie-licensed game. You use the mouse to move around by clicking on the area where you wish to move. Your actions are confined to just three keyboard buttons, which are mapped to your slashing attack, thrust attack, and block maneuvers. By using different combinations of these keys, however, you can unleash special attacks like dives, uppercuts, spin attacks, and a coup de grâce. Later on, you are able to unleash magical attacks that eliminate every enemy on the screen at the expense of your supermeter, which very quickly builds up as you defeat enemies through more conventional means. The game does a great job at teaching you these moves, and although the mouse-driven movement can make aiming your attacks a little awkward at times, for the most part, the controls feel pretty tight and intuitive.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas' biggest problem as a game is that it's far too short. There are just five different areas to explore, and each is broken up into a few missions. Unfortunately, it takes just two hours or so to get through all of it. A child who is less experienced at games may take a little longer, but the overabundance of health potions and the frequency with which you can clear the screen of enemies through magical attacks makes Sinbad a rather easy game to get through. There isn't much variety in the mission objectives either. Aside from a couple of shooting gallery missions where you man the harpoon gun on Sinbad's ship, the Chimera, it's pretty much hack-and-slash all the way through the game. Furthermore, the enemies don't differ all that much in how they attack you.
Once you've beaten the campaign, you unlock a score attack mode where you can play through the missions and receive a numerical rating based on how well you do, but aside from this, there isn't much to the game. There are no multiplayer modes at all.
Overall, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas amounts to a typical movie-licensed game. The presentation is pretty good, and the gameplay is somewhat more interesting than you might expect. Its primary failings are a ridiculously brief campaign (even for a value-priced title) and an ESRB rating that will keep the game out of the reach of those who'd probably like it the most.