Surprisingly better than most side-scrolling adventure games

User Rating: 8 | The Tale of Despereaux DS
early impressions ...

I will admit, that if anyone would ask if this game is expected to be boring at best, I would probably be the one raising his hand fully stretched. But surprise, surprise the game is actually better in my opinion when compared to games like Prince of Persia: The Fallen King and Assassin's Creed. Movie based games are usually of no good, but this I believe is an exception. And no, I'm not drunk right now either.

The game at first glance will look like its targeting kids above anything else. However, as you play the game you'll soon discover that some of the puzzle elements in the game might be too hard for a young gamer. This game works pretty much like Tomb Raider: Underworld minus the guns and violence. If you replace Lara Croft with a mice, and the lions and gunmen with frogs, bees, and spiders. At the same time retaining the well made levels, you'll be able to have a good idea on what this game have on offer.

The game starts with a fantasy storybook introduction. And when I say storybook, I meant that literally because that is what you have on the top-screen, while the subtitles is at the bottom. The tutorial is given by placing question marks around the levels and clicking on them gives you instructions on how to perform the basic moves. It is a better way in my opinion of creating a tutorial because it doesn't force the player who is willing to discover everything for himself to read boring text manuals. The game has the typical save-the-queen flavor into it that causes your character to run around a castle, kitchen, sewer, garden, library, etc etc. The levels are well made and you'll be able not only to do the usual running and jumping but perform acrobatic moves such as: rappelling, jumping/bouncing of walls, grabbing on ledges, getting catapulted, using a curtain to descend slowly using a needle (ala PoP), sliding on slippery areas etc. There are also some puzzle elements here wherein you need to find a way on how to reach high areas by carrying and pushing/pulling items on the environment. Also, you will be able to discover that there are some hidden areas here where you can acquire "musical notes". I'm really not sure what they are for, but I believe they enable you to unlock clothes that your character can hop in to.

The game is not extremely easy. The game will actually start with you running around the levels without any weapon. So you'll have no choice but to dodge your enemies by timing their moves or using the environment to get around them. You will then be later given a needle that you can use to clear out obstacles and attack opponents except for other mice like you that cannot be killed and can only be distracted by lighting out candles. Obstacles like mouse traps can be used to lure other mouse into and kill them while at the same time de-activate the trap. But when they're (other mouse) not around, you can just jump around the mouse traps or find something lying around that you can throw at it. There are quite a number of things that you can experience per level and the game does a well job of mixing them together in a fun and non-frustrating manner.

The graphics looks great. They're vibrant and colorful. The environment looks smooth and detailed as well. The animation is also quite impressive. Add to that the character grunts when getting hit or throwing objects, and shouting "wohoo!" when being able to execute acrobatic moves makes this game an enjoyable experience.

The controls use a mix and buttons and touchscreen. However, the touchscreen is only limited to things like transferring a flame to a candle. Which can be done with your finger and doesn't really distract gameplay like with other games that forces you to switch back-and-forth with the buttons and stylus.

If there's any downside on this game its probably the lack of VOs and cinematics. Yes, it might be not that big of a deal for some people but it could have made the game a bit more immersive. The game is also on the forgiving side because if you die, you will be re-spawned on your last checkpoint with all of the traps and enemies that you killed out of your way. So in short, you can actually commit suicide because you can just go back later with the traps no longer active.

The game is in my opinion the non-violent version of Tomb Raider: Underworld (if you even consider that title violent). It is perfect for the younger gamers out there, but has something that will keep teens and up entertained as well. And if you're thinking of purchasing a game for your nephew or even a friend who love adventure games, this game will not disappoint.


UPDATE:
I was informed that acquiring the musical notes adds additional instruments on the soundtrack.

I was also able to finish the game after around 3 hours of playing it. It was a lot shorter than I expected it to be, but I had fun with it. I could have squeezed a few more minutes with it if I spent time grabbing all the notes on the levels. I tried restarting the game and discovered that all the musical notes I acquired before are still intact, so I can give it another go and collect the notes that I missed before if I want to.

.:My reviews are only as good as everyone else's. Take every single one of them with a grain of salt:.

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