E3 06: Brave Hands-On

We swallow our fear and get Brave as we tackle this charming kid-friendly adventure game.

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Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer
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LOS ANGELES--Brave is a third-person action adventure game that follows the adventures of a young Native American warrior and wannabe-shaman named (naturally) Brave. We got to check out a recent build of the game today, just a day before the game is set to make an appearance at E3 2006, and were immediately charmed by its attractive look and approachable controls.

As the exuberant and curious Brave, you'll be exploring the appealing cartoonish environments, solving puzzles, and defeating enemies along the way, all with mechanics that were kid-friendly right from the get-go. The game starts off as Brave attempts to save his cute friend, Meadow Flower, from the ravenous jaws of a grizzly bear. His solution? Toss a few rocks at the big beast's head. This set the big grizzly on the trail of our hero and his friend, as he chased the duo across the forest. This may be a game for youngsters, but that doesn't mean it's a walk in the park, as we discovered early on when we let our guard down for a second. As soon as Brave stopped running, the grizzly caught up and, well, let's just say we had to start over from scratch and toss a few more rocks at the big bear's noggin.

The ultimate goal of Brave is to find the shaman named Spirit Dancer--the greatest shaman of all time--but, first, Brave has to learn a number of new skills by reading cave paintings found in a number of local caverns. The skills you learn here also serve as a sort of tutorial to the game's basic controls--and Brave has a number of special moves that will help him navigate the world, including jumps and double jumps. When it comes to laying the wood on enemies, you can pull small bushes up out of the ground and use the trunks as impromptu weapons. Then there are the more specific controls and powers, such as the ability to ride buffalos and eagles, various magical spells such as transforming into a brown bear, and skills such as sparking fires to open up additional gates on a specific level. Brave will need those powers when going up against a host of enemies, such as giant bees, wolves, paint beetles, rock goblins, and cliff ogres.

The game's major charm is the attractive character design--both Brave and Meadow Flower remind us of the cute heroine in Disney's Lilo & Stitch. The gameworld itself is vibrant and varied--with plenty of curious vegetation and spooky caves to explore. Brave won't just be roaming the forests, however. The game will also take place in desert plains, in icy wastelands, and even midair and in the spirit world. We like what we've seen so far of this kid-friendly game and hope to see more of it on the E3 floor in the coming days.

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