The premise is that Underland (or Wonderland) is being torn apart by the Red Queen's forces. Your goal is to journey through the world, solving puzzles, and collecting puzzle pieces that will help restore Underland to its former greatness. Through the game, you'll fend off some nasty little creatures who masquerade as harmless objects (grass, hats, etc.) and zap you as you try to walk past. You'll also battle the Red Knights as they try to steal Alice away into a swirling vortex. The Alice in Wonderland DS game is an intriguing mix of platform, puzzle and action games.
- Funky, fun graphics
- A variety of puzzles
- Nice use of the platform
- Freedom to explore
- Battle scenes start to get tedious
- It's not always clear if you've unlocked a power you need
- Lack of instructions/tutorial on advanced abilities
Characters in the Alice in Wonderland DS Game
Alice in Wonderland allows you to play as four characters: McTwisp the White Rabbit, Absolem the Caterpillar, Mad Hatter and Chesire Cat. Each characters have special abilities such as speeding up/reversing time, reversing gravity or the ability to make objects appear and disappear. You'll need these skills in varying combinations to solve the puzzles that appear with increasing difficulty as you progress throughout the game. The puzzles are delightful and the characters each quirky and playful in their own way. The only flaw is that you'll sometimes come across a puzzle that you aren't yet able to solve. While frustrating, you can be assured that you'll unlock new abilities as you continue on your journey.
Alice plays a strangely minor role in the general play of the game. With a glazed look on her face, she skips blithely behind the main characters until she reaches a place too high to climb or too far to jump. Then she waits behind calling, "Hey-yo!" until you return to give her a hand. Not only do you need to help Alice in these situations, but you'll need to protect her from frequent attacks by the Red Knights who want to pull her into a swirling vortex. These were two of the most tedious aspects of the game and I would have happily left Alice behind while saving Underland. The combat scenes come far too often and at times may be frustrating to pass. It took me quite some time to master the techniques required to defeat the more challenging Knights and the loss of Alice means the loss of the game. Fortunately, game save points are frequent.
There are a few qualities that make the Alice in Wonderland DS game stand out:
- Graphics. Unlike other movie tie-ins, this DS game uses none of the artwork from the movie. Instead, it relies on a surreal, understated color pallette with an emphasis on black, white, red and purple. The characters and background have a unique, cartoonish look that matches the mix of wonder and darkness that permeate the storyline. It's just wonderful to look at.
- Humor. While subtle, the humor is always surprising and delightful. Alice, when she speaks, is frequently sarcastic and cynical, and the other characters all stay true to their unusual personas.
- Use of the platform. The DS and DSi have features that make them different from other platforms, namely the touch screen, microphone and (in the case of the DSi) cameras. These provide an opportunity to developers for unique game play, but more often than note result in gimmicky activities that are more tedious than fun. The Alice in Wonderland DS game has some excellent use of these special features. For example, blowing on the microphone can turn a windmill or power a sail boat in the game. It can also blow away cards. The camera plays a special role for DSi players who are asked to point the camera at something in a certain color to solve a puzzle. And I'm not going to lie; I ran around like a madwoman in search of something to match the color before the timer ran out.
The Alice in Wonderland DS game stands out as a shining example of a DS movie tie-in. With a distinct personality of its own and intriguing puzzles and game play, this game is hard to put down. As a bonus, it's easy enough for less hardcore gamers, while interesting enough for those with a bit more skill. We can only hope that other DS developers take note of this gem and try to emulate it.
- Publisher: Disney Interactive
- Release Date: March 2, 2010
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
- Platforms: Nintendo DS/DSi