Fun if bog-standard platforming adventure
Lazy, derivative and predictable are words that spring to mind when playing the inevitable spin-offs from Tim Burtons candy-coloured take on Alice In Wonderland. But given the lamentable quality of most adventures aimed at a pre-teen audience, Disneys stab at keeping the spirit of the film alive is surprisingly accomplished in a genre crippled by short development schedules, convoluted approval processes, and the cocksure knowledge that certain titles are guaranteed sales on the back of their licence alone.
On the Wii, the developers have plumped for a bog-standard platforming adventure where running, jumping and puzzle-solving are the order of the day, and where every scene you encounter is haunted by a nagging sense of déjà vu. But while the obvious route wouldve been for Disney to cast players in the role of Alice, the adventure sees players swapping between characters such as the Hatter, Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit and Dormouse, each surreal nutcase blessed with unique powers that must be used in conjunction to move through the slickly-presented worlds, in turn encouraging youngsters to think about every challenge and how the heroes can support each other, rather than randomly jamming the Wii controller in their air to despatch enemies.
Things are different on the Nintendo DS, where the retina-sizzling visuals of the movie are replaced by a more sober, Patapon-inspired art style, and the gameplay is more focused on puzzle-solving than twitchy arcade action. And while the stylish action on the DS will be familiar to older players with a wide knowledge of handheld games, this less-literal treatment of the source material is a welcome break in an industry where kids games are often cranked out in the final weeks before a movie release, and suggests that Disney has learned its lesson and wont be so quick to hoist substandard software on its young fans.