I didn’t see the Chronicles of Narnia in the theaters when it was out. I did, however, read the books a very long time ago (so long ago that the books were more likely read to me.) Even without seeing the movie, you can be certain that any video game based on a movie which is aimed at children, is a steaming pile of dog crap.The Chronicles of Narnia for the Nintendo DS is such a steaming pile. You basically work your way through the story, controlling a party consisting of all 4 of the sweet little British kids. You fight humans, dwarves, you make friends with bears, and you even get to control the Crazy Umbrella-Wielding Goat-Boy (I prefer that name over Mr. Tumnus.)
The game is a hack and slash RPG. You kill monsters mostly consisting of evil animals, and as you fight, you level up. You get money crystals which you use to purchase new equipment. You really only control one character, the other 3 children are controlled by the AI - which you can set much like that old SNES game Secret of Mana.
When you do get enough experience to level up, you can pick different statistics to give you more dexterity, or strength or hit points. This is nice, but again, none of this matters if the game just isn’t fun - which it isn’t.
The game is done in 3d, and there are some cheese elements like night and day cycles, as well as this whole idea that you get cold. As you are cold you get less experience than you would if you would be warm. To get warm you go into a bear cave or similar shelter to warm up. This works sort of like World of Warcraft’s Inn system for resting.
Expect to be doing a huge amount of backtracking in this game. The same handful of tiles are being used for all the landscape, so you won’t even be able to explore new lands in this game, which I thought the amazement of a new world to explore was a big part of the draw for the world of Narnia.
The combat in this game is slow and annoying. It’s a button masher with very little strategic elements. Run up to monster, hit it many times, lather rinse repeat. The attacking just feels clumsy and awkward.
The game itself looks “ok” for being a 3d Nintendo DS game, but these aren’t the best graphics I’ve ever seen. Couple this with the horrible slowdown when a handful of baddies are on the screen and you can’t even use the graphics to be the reason to purchase this game.
Another annoyance is that the menus are all stylus driven. Yes folks, add Narnia to the huge list of games which don’t use the DS’s touch functionality to its fullest. You have to use the touch screen to level your characters and do things like save the game, or use the menus. Considering nothing else in the game uses the touch pad, it’s annoying to have to pull the stylus out every time someone levels up.
In summary, I hated every moment I had to spend with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. If you have a kid who loves the movies, it’s still not enough reason to get this thing. Stay far far away.
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