reviews\ Feb 24, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Disney's Peter Pan: Return to Never Land - GBA - Review

Most of us grew up wanting to share in that joy that only birds and superheroes seem to have - the gift of flight. Peter Pan is no exception, and when Disney picked up the tale for their timeless classic, who knew that they'd later be cooking up a new rendition to inspire a whole new generation? Plus, what's even better is the fact that along with this new film, Peter Pan: Return to Never Land, there's great technology, like the GBA, to bring that adventure even closer to home. So, instead of figuring out ways of jumping off the roof and missing the ground (aka flying), kids can fly with Peter in Disney's newest game adaptation.

In the tradition of movie tie-in games, you take on the role of our hero - in this case Peter Pan - and set about to save the day in many of the same scenarios and settings from the movie. As the game opens, Peter and his somewhat distressed pal, Tinkerbell, set off to meet up with Jane, Danny, and their family. The game pretty much follows the plot of the movie - leading up to the inevitable confrontation with the infamous Captain Hook. It's not as easy as it looks though - and you'll have a pretty in-depth journey in getting to that final showdown.

The first thing you'll notice is that the controls on this platformer do a lot more than allow you to aim your jumps, they'll let you fly. However, you can't just do this sort of flying thing willy-nilly, because Tinkerbell's pixie dust has been stolen by Captain Hook and his clan. So, in light of this, you will need to use your pixie dust sparingly. You will have the chance to collect more along the way - but you have to find it, and sometimes you need a little help finding the dust, as well as finding magic feathers and avoiding the bad guys. The first level will have you getting used to the hang of all the platforming, flying and collecting. Next, you'll have to learn how to keep Jane and Danny close by. You see, they depend on you to fly, and if you get too far ahead of them, they'll lose that special ability. 

From here, you'll also need to learn some combat techniques - after all, you've got some pirates to defeat. Fighting isn't too hard, once you learn a few simple tricks, and this is good for the younger gamer in your life. Once a level is cleared, you'll need to have a pen and paper handy to record the password. There is no saving directly to the game, but if you've played other Disney GBA's, like Atlantis, you're probably already familiar with this.

Graphically, the real highlight of the game is the reward of real cut-scenes from the movie. It's just amazing, speaking as a long time gamer, to see how far we've come in gaming technology. It's a great accomplishment - and I can't think of anyone more qualified than Disney to break this barrier in the gaming world. The actual gameplay graphics are colorful, though nothing out of this world. They accomplish what they need to - and they are still worthy of the GBA technology. 

All in all, RTNL for GBA is a worthy purchase for fans of the movie, who also just happen to love their GBAs. Even if you do have to write down your passwords, it's still a fun romp in the childhood world of Peter, Tinkerbell, and friends. It's got plenty of areas to explore if you want to collect all your special items (especially interesting since you can fly), and it provides simple enough gameplay for younger gamers. With real clips from the movie, this game takes movie-tie in gaming one step further - and animation fans will rejoice!

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8
RTNL adds something new to the traditional GBA adaptation of Disney films. Instead of just being confined to running, jumping, and the like - you can fly! The game has a good amount of exploring to do the extend play time. 

Graphics: 8.5
Peter Pan: Return to Never Land for GBA does exactly what every kid wants in a game based on an animated film - it includes actual footage from the film to bring the story to life. It's an impressive world we have when we can hold the silver screen in the palms of our hands. 

Sound: 8
With score inspired sound, the RTNL GBA music helps recreate the spirit of the film.

Difficulty: 8
This game is a nice blend of not too easy and not too hard. You can make it as involved as you like, and as soon as you get a handle on when and how to fly - you'll be cruising along at a great pace.

Concept: 8
It's a step above the usual movie tie-in game. Instead of your average platformer, you get a new facet of flying - PLUS real cut scenes from the movie.

Overall: 8
Peter Pan: Return to Never Land is a great choice for the fans of the movie. It's a great step in showing just how much games and movies are crossing over - even on the biggest little handheld console around!


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