Disney Friends for Nintendo DS has you interacting and taking care of some of the more popular Disney friends in a game similar to Nintendogs. In Disney Friends you will be able to interact with Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, Winnie the Pooh from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Simba from The Lion King, Dory from Finding Nemo, and the Claw Machine Alien from Toy Story. You will have to talk to, feed, and play with your Disney friends to keep them happy while unlocking new areas to explore, accessories for your friends to wear, and pins to collect and trade offline and via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
You begin the game only being able to interact with the Claw Machine Alien from Toy Story (Green Guy as my son and I call him.), but after completing the tutorial with him you will move on to being able to take care of Stitch. After you play Stitch for awhile you will be able to unlock another friend and if you play with them long enough another one will be unlocked and then another one after playing with them, until you unlock all of the characters mentioned above.
To interact with the Disney friend of your choice you enter their area from the main lobby and then are able to feed them by dragging food you buy in the in-game store onto the screen. You can also talk to them by either tapping the predefined phrases under the Speech Menu on the touch screen or you can press the “X” button or touch the microphone icon on the touch screen and say the phrases into the Nintendo DS microphone. You can also tap on your friend on the touch screen to get their attention and also rub, tickle or poke them with the stylus. All of these interactions should sound familiar to anyone that has played Nintendogs and probably any of the other pet care games for Nintendo DS that have been flooding the market in recent years.
You can also go on different adventures with your Disney friends that include squishing bugs for Simba to eat, collecting pieces of wood to start a fire so Stitch can have roasted marshmallows, blowing a sailboat made out of logs and a leaf down the river to help Simba find flamingos, collecting honey for Winnie the Pooh, navigating a maze to find Pumba, Timon, Simba, and the exit, negotiating through a floating minefield with Dory to find sharks teeth, and more. You also have to take different photos of the day with your camera to unlock items and gain Guardian Points.
Guardian Points are what tell you if you are doing a good job in the game and if your friends are happy. As you interact with them by feeding them, going on adventures, taking photos, petting them, and dressing them up with accessories you will gain Guardian Points. Once you fill up the Guardian Points meter for that day you will receive a special bonus and sometimes your friend will give you a drawing. These drawings link together to form a larger image located in your scrapbook in Tinker Bell’s store. Filling up your Guardian Points will also unlock new areas for you to visit with your Disney friend and may unlock a new friend to play with.
You can create music and paint pictures with your Disney friend in the game to gain Guardian Points and keep them happy. The happier they are the more quickly you will advance through the game. Disney Friends also encourages you to come back and play it daily and certain days of the week are classified as special days for each of the characters and you will earn double points or other things on those days if you play with them.
Disney Friends uses the built-in clock and calendar on the Nintendo DS to know what time of day it is and what season it is in the real world. If it is winter time and night time in the real life then it will be winter and dark in Disney Friends. Disney Friends also knows when holidays are and when your birthday is and will do special things on those days. Disney Friends also has an alarm clock built into the game and your Disney Friend will wake you up instead of the normal Nintendo DS alarm clock if you prefer.
You can play Disney Friends in multiplayer mode via a local wireless connection or the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The multiplayer modes let you play three mini games against a friend or you can trade pins, gold, inventory items, and photos with them. Both players will need the game cartridge in their system to play multiplayer via local connection or the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Disney Friends’ controls are decent and remind me of Nintendogs, but I noticed a few places where you had to press one of the buttons to advance the dialog instead of taping the screen like all the other places. The dialog in the game doesn’t make up a full story throughout the game, but that really isn’t what the game is about to begin with. I also noticed a few places where tapping the item or object in the challenges was a little hard, but none of these things really takes away from the game.
The text in the game is also sometimes very small and I am not sure why they didn’t use a larger font. I didn’t have a problem reading it, but if you or your child has a hard time reading small text then you may have trouble with this game. Speaking of the text and dialog in the game, the game is aimed at girls age 8 to 12 and boys age 7 to 8, but I think if they would’ve made all the dialog spoken then kids younger than this age could’ve enjoyed the game even more. My son is four years old and he really liked Disney Friends, but I had to read all of the text to him that would pop-up throughout the game. If they would’ve made the text spoken then this game could’ve been accessible to a younger age range. My son understood what he needed to do after I told him what it said on the screen, but because he couldn’t read it himself it made the game limiting for his age.
The music and sound effects in the game were decent and the characters sounded like the ones that are in the movies. I am not sure if they got the same actors to record the voices for this game or if they got people that sounded similar, but either way they sounded good. Sound effects were mixed throughout the game also, but you will mainly hear the Disney character you are interacting with most of the time. Disney Friend’s music is the standard instrumental synthesized music which works well for each character level, but was not very memorable.
Disney Friends’ graphics are pretty good for a 3D Nintendo DS game and they are probably some of the better 3D graphics I have seen on the system. They are not that complicated since the areas are pretty small, but you can definitely tell which Disney character you are playing with. Their animation is well done also. I would say that the graphics are very comparable to Nintendogs if you have played that game in the past.
Disney Friends is definitely not a game I would buy and play myself, but I am happy we got it for review, since my son has really enjoyed it. If you have a young boy or girl between the ages of 7 and 12 they will probably like Disney Friends. If you have a child younger than this they will enjoy it also as long as you don’t mind reading the dialog screens for them so they know what to do next. If you or someone you know is a fan of Simba, Stitch, Dory, and Winnie the Pooh then this game will probably entertain them for awhile.
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