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Developer:
Griptonite
Publisher: Buena Vista Games
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release Date: November 15, 2005

by Felipe Faria Lemos




The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the game adaptation of the big screen movie of the same name, based on the book written by C.S Lewis. The game for the Nintendo DS was released November 15th, published by Buena Vista Games and developed by Griptonite Games.


During World War II, in England, Lucy Pevensie finds herself transported to the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe. Eventually, she convinces her 3 siblings, Peter, Susan, and Edmund, to come and see for themselves. While in Narnia, they learn that the land is under a spell from the evil White Witch, which has created an oppressive, 100-years-long winter. The children also soon discover about a prophecy that tells of two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve that are destined to free Narnia from the clutches of the White Witch. Joining forces with Aslan, the true ruler of Narnia, the four unlikely heroes will fight the evil witch minion to try and bring about the spring and an age of peace.


The game is viewed in an isometric perspective, much like the Diablo series. Differently from Diablo, the angle isnít effective in some instances, as walls and other obstacles can be in your way to see part of a room, which can hinder some of the action. Also, some visual issues do exist, such as some bad clipping, sluggish frame-rate when many characters are onscreen, collision detections, and weird 2D perspectives. Visually speaking, the game doesnít look bad on the DS, but also does not have the best presentation the system can offer. The backgrounds are pre-rendered, and are not impressive, but do a good job in setting the atmosphere. The character models are all in 3D, but lack details, probably because of their pocket-sized dimensions. When engaging in conversation with the characters of Narnia, a larger 3D model is displayed on the top screen, and different answers can be selected in the bottom screen with the stylus. The models are good looking and animate quite nicely, but have low-poly count and repeat the animation cycles in a short period. There is a good number of enemies, but they are not very varied and come in with a vengeance. The difficulty can be adjusted, but even in the normal setting you will be chased mercilessly by the witch minions, and have to restart an area many times until you can figure out the best way to battle the enemies. The songs do a good job in conveying the frigid theme, with satisfying sound effects.


The player controls the 4 siblings, but not all at the same time. The L and R buttons switch which one of the individuals you control with the D-pad, while the others follow around. The action happens on the top screen, while the lower, touch-sensitive screen displays most of the other information. Every one of them has a particular skill and different equipment. Much like any RPG, there is a point system in use here with different attributes: HP (Health Points), WP (Willpower--similar to MP in other games, points are drawn when a special talent is used), ST (Strength--measures the strength of an attack and allows moving larger objects) and DX (Dexterity--adds accuracy to an attack and helps evade enemy attacks). There's also XP, the Experience Points, which can be earned by defeating enemies, helping good creatures, and completing quests. Earn enough XP points and the player increases the level of each character.


Besides the regular attributes and statistics, Narnia has a set of Virtue points that increase different aspects of their regular statistics. Virtue points can be increased by defeating enemies, performing tasks, and earning the respect of the good creatures of Narnia. Valor will increase both DX and ST, Magnificence will increase the HP and resilience to enemy attacks, Gentleness improves charisma, which helps earning trust and respect from the good creatures, and Justice increases the WP. There are special talents that the children can learn from an animal lord, by fulfilling their requests.


The game utilizes the touch screen mainly for selecting options and battle strategies. There is perhaps only one aspect of the touch-screen interaction that is particularly interesting, which is drawing shapes to perform spells and touching a panpipe to play its notes. Narnia is played mostly through the D-pad and buttons, which isnít exactly bad for this kind of game, but offers nothing new to the genre.


In conclusion, although there are some side quests from a number of different animals you meet throughout the land, which helps add some replay value to the game, ultimately the game is not satisfying enough to keep you motivated to keep playing until everything is complete. This is not to say the game is completely bad; there are some satisfying moments in the game, but it is so generic and bland that probably only fans of the story will find it very entertaining. Iíd suggest renting before buying if you are not a big fan of the renowned book series.


Final Grade: 70%




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