I’m a little Disney princess.
Wait. That doesn’t sound right. I’m a married man old enough to have seen the original Star Wars in the cinema. Han shot first. Trust me on this.
Let’s try again. Got to remember the lisp.
I’m a wittle Dithney pwintheth.
Yes, I’ve been playing Brave, the latest Disney/Pixar tie-in game, wherein one plays the red-haired, green-eyed, pre-teen Princess Marida in her quest to save the land from an ancient demon-bear named Mor Du. I’m a little rusty on my Scottish Gaelic, but I think that means the Great Black One.
Fortunately enough, she’s a feisty young lass who wields a sword and a bow and puts her heart and soul into fighting. I don’t think I could have coped with a Barbie clone; this column deals more in shocking punk than shocking pink.
I’ve heard nothing but good things about the movie, but I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t say if the game tries to follow the movie’s plot at all.
What I can say is that although Disney are billing this as an action-adventure game, it’s really more of a 3D platformer, and a fairly standard combat-oriented one at that.
The action adventure mode really only comes into character development: earn enough silver (by chopping flowers down among other things – she’s a destructive lass, this princess) and you can buy new or improved abilities.
You’ll occasionally get a chance to play alternate characters from the film – for some reason the princess’s brothers are little raccoons (at least, I think they’re raccoons), who can solve puzzles to open doors for the Princess.
But mostly it’s Princess Marida, and all she does is fight and jump platforms to reach new areas. As is standard, there are a few hidden areas with bonus equipment or maguffins to collect.
The amount if combat in the game is, I suspect, what’s brought the age rating up to 12. That makes me wonder who the game is aimed at, because I don’t think a 12-year-old is going to find it much of a challenge, and I don’t think older kids are going to be that keen on playing it.
Adults are certainly not going to find it particularly challenging.
This brings us back to the biggest problem with movie tie-in games: they’re primarily aimed at people who loved the movie and want to extend their enjoyment. Most movie tie-ins are linear and dull. Yes, there are exceptions, tie-ins that are great games in their own right, but they are rarities.
Brave manages to avoid being dull, through it can get somewhat repetitive, but it’s a workmanlike production rather than a creative one. There’s no innovation, nothing particularly special about the vice acting and certainly no humour – the saving grace of one of the better movie tie-in adventure games, Ice Age 3 (also a Disney/Pixar production).
The plot of the game is simple. After an initial romp through the woods, designed to teach you the few controls and techniques you’ll need in the game, you meet up with a witch who’s cast a spell to turn your Mum into a bear. She explains that wasn’t what she intended, but the presence of the ancient, evil Mor Du has corrupted her magic, and the forest.
Your mission is to wipe the corruption from the forest by killing monsters, defeat Mor Du, and then the witch’s magic will work properly again and she can change your mother back. Each level can be unlocked from t a ring of magic stones by completing the previous level; if you missed items or areas you can use the ring to replay earlier levels as well.
You can pick up a variety of charms which will help deal extra damage to certain types of monsters, and you can choose the currently active charm using the D-pad.
Aside from that, you’ve got a jump control, a button for sword attacks and another for bow attacks. There’s no need to switch weapons; Marida is ambidextrous, is seems. The final button is for interactive with objects, which amounts to opening doors or treasure chests. Add some skills, and you’ll need a couple of other buttons to dodge and the like.
Fighting is smooth and simple. Marida auto-targets her bow, and you can keep the button pressed to turn it into rapid shot mode (shades of the Crow the Elf from Hawk the Slayer).
Repeat these techniques until either you’ve completed the game or you’ve got bored of it.
Take the movie clutter away, and you’ve basically got a middle-of-the-road 3D platformer, heavy on the fighting. It’s OK, but it’s nothing special.