Alice in Wonderland is definitely one of the more peculiar children’s stories of all time, so it is no surprise that the movie remake be handled by none other than Tim Burton. As with most Disney tie-ins there is of course a game to coincide with the release, and amazingly it shows up on the Wii. Now up to this point everything I have said would lead you to believe that this latest cash-in title is not worth the time it took to jot down the words in this review, but as it seems to be a recent trend lately, this is another not-so-bad movie game. If you enjoy the source material and are not afraid to have your kids jaunting around a world that is clearly inspired by some wicked mind enhancing substances, this game is a solid purchase.
The story for the game takes place several years after the more recognized story. Alice has returned to Wonderland, but without a previous knowledge of ever being there. The prophecy of her overthrowing the Red Queen and the Jabberwocky had been foretold by a mystical scroll, thus the need to bring Alice back. It is nice to see another perspective of the story, but much of what you would expect is here and presented in the same fashion as the Tim Burton feature film. The Wii incarnation retains the same look and feel from the movie, and considering the platform, the game does a nice job of conveying the world of Alice and her friends.
Probably the most surprising aspect of the game is a lack of playing as Alice. Contrary to the name of the game you never directly control Alice in her wondrous adventures. Instead the game uses the multi-character policy giving you access to The Mad Hatter, Dormous, March Hare, Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit. Each one utilizes their own moves and special abilities that are required to progress through the game. It creates a puzzle aspect to switching between characters that really spice up the gameplay. For instance The Mad Hatter can alter perception to create new pathways. Think of Sony’s Echochrome and you get the idea. Each character brings something new to the table and each one is utilized fairly equally outside of Dormouse.
The game itself is a mixture of puzzle and adventure that works wonderfully thanks to both the shaken up gameplay and environments. As you progress there are doors that you need to get through which require the specific cake or drink to change your size. Each of your characters will have to implement their abilities to take down bosses and traverse the environment to obtain these power-ups. The concept takes the traditional sense of adventure games and adds its own spin to create an extremely varied and entertaining experience for both casual and traditional gamers alike.
The best part is that this game was definitely designed with kids playing in mind. The difficulty is basically non-existent in the fact that even if you die, you respawn immediately where you left off. There is also a co-op feature where another player can join into the action to help kids along. Some of the puzzles are a bit daunting for beginners though and without gaming knowledge they may be enigmatic at first. This is perplexing as a game that has no penalty for dying has quite a few spots where you may hit a brick wall if you are not inclined to play games often. Outside of that the pacing and everything else really works and delivers a solid, if not predictable and simple experience for young fans of the movie or series. Hardcore gamers looking for the sleeper adventure game need not apply.
As far as visuals are concerned the game looks pleasantly good on the Wii. The environments definitely give off the same aesthetic vibe of the movie. The trippy scenarios are further enforced with character designs that would definitely scare some of the younger demographic. The animations are well done and the frame rate remains steady for the most part. The biggest reason it works so well on the Wii is the washed-out look the game retains. Characters are presented on dark backgrounds and the meshing just falls into place. The sounds are good, but most notable are the voiceovers. You will hear some of the stars from the movie reprising their roles, which is a definite bonus. The music on the other hand is completely drab and void of any memorable tunes.
Alice in Wonderland is a delightful change of pace from the usual drivel the Wii churns out from third party developers. The environments are faithful to the movie; the adventure is fun and diverse enough for kids to enjoy, and the focus on making the game accessible all serve it well. This is one game that manages to satisfy all of the criteria of being a solid movie tie-in while not sacrificing the normal quality aspects to get there. If you enjoy the lore and the recent Tim Burton movie, and are not expecting the next great gaming epiphany, this game is definitely one to check out.
Review copy provided by publisher.