Alice in Wonderland - WII - Review
When compiling a list of places one would rather not visit, the mind of Tim Burton might well make that lineup. Burton has made, or envisioned, some rather bizarre places and taken movie-goers on fantastic rides. To think his treatment of Alice in Wonderland would be more commonplace would be erroneous.
Nothing could be stranger, or darker, than American McGee’s Alice, but the game that has released to bank on a multi-media blitz with the movie is not the story or world Lewis Carroll wrote about.
Ok, so it has the Disney Interactive label on it, the Wii version of Alice in Wonderland is inspired by the Burton film, and while arcade-like in many ways and certainly not innovation, it is a fair treatment and action-adventure game.
The game begins simply enough the White Rabbit and Dormouse hunting for the right Alice, whom they hope will return to Wonderland and set things right. It seems that the Red Queen has taken over the ‘Underland,’ and things have taken a decided turn for the worse.
Alice, it should be noted, it not one of the five playable characters in this game. Instead, players get to use the Rabbit and Dormouse, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. Each character has different abilities and switching between characters is as easy as hitting the C button. For example, the White Rabbit – who coincidentally swings an oversized pocket watch in combat – can freeze time. This comes in handy early on as he, the Dormouse and Alice try to navigate a maze that has a nasty root-based creature that will harangue the trio and block the path through the maze. The solution to this mini-puzzle is rather easy. Get the creature to pop up at the end furthest from the exiting path, use the point to illuminate the creature (in this case, it has a blue light cast over it), then hit the Z button on the nunchuck and rotated the Wii-mote in a clockwise way. That action freezes time, allowing the trio to move through to the exit without too much damage. Players can jump between unlocked characters by hitting the C button, and the game also feature cooperative play, and a second player can jump in during the actual game play by hitting the 1 button and enabling the 2-player mode.
The gameplay mechanics tread familiar paths. You can hit things, which drop Impossible Ideas, or what amounts to the currency of the world. Swipe at a huge patch of mushrooms, and you may get 10 or so. Chess pieces found also work in conjunction with the Impossible Ideas to unlock upgrades to skills. Some elements in the game will require certain skills – like invisibility or telekinesis – to use.
The job of the game is simple, help Alice through the 14 or so mission quests to the boss battle with the Jabberwocky, but protect her at all costs. If the enemies capture Alice and drag her into a vortex (the heart-shaped thing from which enemies tend to emerge), it’s game over and back you go to the last save point.
Scrolls, golden and glowing, scattered throughout the world allow in-progress save points.
As the game is rated for Everyone 10 and over, it seems that the focus of the game may have been a younger audience. The game mechanics are not overly complicated and seem suitable for a player (with limited game experience) between 10 and 12. But that should not daunt older players that might find a certain charm to the look of the game and story that plays out.
There are delightful characters to meet along the way and while the Wii is not the most impressive of next-gen consoles in terms of graphics, the look of the animation works. The narrative is done well and the puzzles are not overly complex.
Alice in Wonderland is not a deep game and is slightly off-kilter from the beloved children’s story, but while the game is rather ordinary in many regards, it is still slightly entertaining, if only because the environments are done well.
Review Scoring Details for Alice in Wonderland
The camera is a tad less responsive than it could have been, particularly given the ability to scan the area or approach an object from a certain angle. However, the controls are simplistic and easy to learn to use.
While not as lush as graphics would be on other consoles, the look of this game is reminiscent of hand-drawn games that have a certain character and charm to them. Alice is not the most startling figure in the game, but the fantastical characters of the world have a nice presence.
The game delivers the expected sound and it is a nice supporting role. Kudos for the dialogue that gives the flavor of the times without sounding contrived.
The gameplay is tried-and-true, but the way the missions are tied together and the visuals combined with the audio make for a light and enjoyable time.
Each player can take on the role of one of the characters and help in a cooperative manner.
Graphically this game scores well, and though the overall gameplay is nothing that has not been experienced before, the game still has a nice rhythm to it. It is what it is – a game adaptation of a movie, slightly offbeat, but accessible.