Games based on family movies often look and play like cheaply made quickies, but that’s not the case with Sierra’s pleasantly bright “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” which turns in a surprisingly enjoyable if brief performance… …”Spiderwick” is a well-made tie-in to the Par/Nick fantasy film opening next week and should sell well with fans of the books and pic.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a rare example of a video game based on a film that manages to operate within the confines of the film’s structure while still providing a moderately entertaining gameplay experience.
Nintendo World Report
Battles feature a simple attack scheme that provides fun on a universal level. There is a quickness and zaniness to combat that highlights it as the game’s strong point, and capturing fairies along the way lets you learn magical spells that add an element of strategy. Using the Wii Remote to swing Jared’s baseball bat or Mallory’s sword to annihilate hordes of creeps with ease is a real treat.
It’s a well-documented phenomena of the video-game industry that licensed games are, more often than not, sub-par — and this goes doubly for any game based on a license aimed at children. There are any number of reasons for this, whether it’s the fact that they are oftentimes rushed through the development process (especially bug testing), or that they are often pale imitations of other established titles, or simply that the developers and/or license holders don’t care about releasing a quality game. Occasionally, though, a licensed game manages to break away from the cliché, and deliver a quality gaming experience. The Spiderwick Chronicles, based on the recently released film, isn’t the best adventure game ever to grace the PS2, but it is worlds beyond most licensed games, and an enjoyable gaming experience in its own right.
In many ways, the game feels like it was designed to introduce kids to adventure gaming. All the elements (real-time combat, multiple quests, large explorable environments, a magic/ability system, and plenty of puzzles) are here, simply presented in a way as to appeal to children; any kid weaned on this game would be ready to tackle Okami or the Zelda series. Sure, that means it’s a bit on the simple side, and it’s not perfect, but anyone looking for a fun adventure could do a lot worse than to spend some time exploring Spiderwick’s fantastical world.
Worth Playing – 360
Nothing strikes fear into a gamer’s heart quite like the phrase “licensed movie game.” Those three words, when used together, are basically synonyms for abysmal, awful, dreadful and terrible. Indeed, Ever since E.T.: The Game, movie-based titles seem to have the ability to crash and burn harder than pretty much anything else. That’s why, when an honest-to-goodness decent licensed game comes out, it is cause for celebration. Well, break out the streamers and prepare the feast, because The Spiderwick Chronicles is a truly fun, simple, family-friendly game.
What separates this game from so many mediocre titles is that everything is executed very well, and it manages to be fun no matter what age you are.
Worth Playing – Wii
Though it may be a little too soon to make this kind of bold statement, we may be seeing a new era in the art of translating feature-length movies into console video games. While portable gaming systems continue to miss the mark in part due to their hardware limitations, many of the home console systems’ adaptations of movies in this day and age seem to be bucking the trend of horrible transitions. It seems that translating from one format to another can be done successfully, if some effort is put into the process. The Spiderwick Chronicles is further evidence to suggest that this theory may hold water, something of a triumph in a genre populated principally by sub-par work intended to cash in on a film’s success.
Overall, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fairly enjoyable experience for most anyone, whether you’re a seasoned adventure gamer or someone who simply likes the movie. There is no aspect of this title that is completely perfect, but every aspect is almost completely perfect, making for a pleasant diversion whose flaws are comparatively minor and won’t detract from the enjoyment of the game. Make sure that you don’t miss this one!
Gamers should always approach licensed games with caution. More often than not, the tie-in tries to coast on the brand name rather than provide a fun gaming experience. I’m happy to report that The Spiderwick Chronicles sidesteps this pitfall and offers a surprisingly enjoyable adventure for the younger gamer. It immerses the player in a lighthearted, fantasy world filled with an impressive amount of mythical creatures.
Combat is mostly button-mashing, but it’s pretty satisfying smashing in a goblin’s skull with a metal baseball bat. As you defeat enemies you’ll pick up goblin teeth, which (for some reason or another) unlock new attacks. Of course, these usually only grant you another press of the A button, but there are a few cool abilities to be unlocked. Jared, the sibling you begin playing as, has a rather awesome “launcher” attack that lets him hit goblin home runs.’
The Spiderwick Chronicles recreates that feeling of being a kid and suspending your disbelief in fantasy. Much of this success in setting a mood and creating an intriguing world to explore is attributable to Holly Black’s original books. But I have to give credit to developer Stormfront for creating a fun game to go inside the Spiderwick license… …there is a big area to delve into, the music is great, and there is a lot of gameplay variety. There’s something new to find around every corner, and that’s something I can’t say about enough games. The Chronicles could get younger players hooked on adventure gaming.
4 Color Rebellion
Reviewing a children’s game can be a pretty tough prospect. The standards you apply to every other game don’t always work here. Well, that’s not entirely true. You can’t just foist crappy games on kids because they are kids. That’s just wrong. To be more accurate, the set standards for critiquing a title apply a tad bit differently. Things like difficulty and story need different judging criteria. To a certain extent, this same line of reasoning applies to licensed games. It’s hard to just attach a flat number score to these games. Fans of the license will obviously get more out of it than someone who has never seen or read the source material.
This article isn’t really an editorial on the review process, so I’ll spare you my rantings (for now). The point is that Spiderwick Chronicles is unmistakably both a licensed property and a children’s game. When I started playing, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach my review. Turns out that I shouldn’t have worried, Spiderwick Chronicles is actually a pretty decent game by any set of standards.
Games based on fantasy fiction generally don’t have a good reputation. If you have played through any of the Harry Potter games, or perhaps the Lord of the Rings games (excluding Lord of the Rings Online), you’ll probably know why. Naturally, because of this, I was a bit hesitant to play The Spiderwick Chronicles.
I was pleasantly surprised when I booted the game and was introduced into a world that was actually fun to explore.
Overall, I am very surprised at how enjoyable The Spiderwick Chronicles is. I didn’t think I’d ever get to play a game based on a movie or novel that was actually enjoyable, so kudos goes to Sierra.