jp's Alice in Wonderland (DS)
| [May 31, 2023 02:23:02 PM]
| Now that I'm back home and can take a look at the box, the cover says "Inspired by the Tim Burton Film" - and then I remembered that there WAS a movie! And...I'm not really sure what/where the inspiration in the game lies?
As you play you pick up collectibles and I took a look at a few in one of the menus. They're pretty cool - some are concept art that shows different designs - including ones that were developed but not used/considered! Many were quite different from the final game (and, to be fair, looked more like the style used in the movie). Others showed the triangles for the 3D models for the characters - although the game is 2D - the characters are all 3D models (pretty low rez, of course) and it was neat to see the breakdown - it's wild how things have changed in terms of optimization for art and so on...
The more I played (I'm probably half-way through Chapter 3, having located all 4 characters) the more I realized that the game really is a Metroidvania in terms of its core design. However, it "deviates" in a few ways that, for me at least, make the experience less interesting (leading up to my decision to not continue playing). So, here goes:
(a) The game features a fair amount of backtracking (standard for metroidvanias) but adds a wrinkle that sometimes you need to plan your backtracks - this is because of how you can move map pieces (levels) around such that certain ones connect to others and so on. It's a cool feature - and definitely a novelty in the space. I think this feature would STILL be a novelty nowadays even though the game is from 2009! However, the backtracking has little in the way of shortcuts (that I could tell) and, because the game is puzzle-oriented, often requires "solving" the same puzzles again. They're not hard by any means - it's just time consuming and so things start to get a bit dreary. Combat is also, unlike most metroidvanias, unavoidable - there are moments in the game where the navigation stops, bag guys warp in and you HAVE to defeat them - again, this starts to get a bit tired especially when you're backtracking. I know why it exists in the game - it breaks up the action - but when you're backtracking it just feels annoying to me.
(b) New abilities unlock new parts of the map (common in metroidvanias) but here new abilities are connected to characters (there are 4) and their upgrades (another 4, though technically each character has two upgrades - the 2nd is for combat). Because the game is stylus-based, you have to to tap/select and so on which makes the switching slow down the game's pace a little bit...this compounds with the backtracking...
I was having fun but only decided to stop playing because I got to a point where I could not progress because I lacked the right upgrade - and I just was too tired to want to backtrack and try to locate the chest with the upgrade I lacked. So far I had found everything "naturally" on the way - so this felt a bit unfair.
(c) The game has a feature for you to mark the map with question marks - super cool feature and is a nice fix/reminder for things/places to go back to.
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| [May 24, 2023 05:20:25 PM]
| Huh, this game has so many cool ideas...and they're just sort of thrown in there. The game still looks interesting - strong art direction with polygonal but stylized art...mostly black and white with elements of color to denote either danger (red) or for moments of character-specific gameplay (purple for the rabbit, green for the caterpillar, blue for the Cheshire cat, and orange for the mad hatter whom I have yet to find/unlock).
You play as a character - any of the above, you switch freely between them whenever you want, and there's Alice - who may not actually be Alice from the books, but the characters sure do hope she is because there's all kinds of trouble un the Underworld. The Queen is breaking everything up into puzzle pieces and it's a disaster for all. Alice is the companion you must protect, she follows you around and you sometimes have to help her climb up or jump over large gaps. The game operates almost entirely via the touch screen and, a few niggles here and there, works pretty well. It's basically puzzle-solving with moments of touch-screen based combat (my least favorite part so far).
Cool things include:
a. The game levels are puzzle pieces you navigate between via doors (with card suits on them). Some of the puzzles involve going to the overworld map and rearranging the puzzle pieces so two areas become connected and you can travel between them!
b. There's chests you can find in the levels with goodies and collectibles and such. I found one that had lots of colors...weird. And then the rear DS camera turned on and I had to find stuff in the environment that matched the color! I was only able to do this by bringing up my ipad and "searching" for the color and pointing the camera at it...which perhaps goes to show that my current environment (at the time) was chromatically bland more than anything.
c. For some of the puzzles you have to blow into the microphone. They make sense in the context of the game (blowing playing cards that serve as a sail on a teacup, or blowing enemies who are cards that you've beat the armor off...etc). It's a little bit gimicky to be fair, but still - just a reminder of how much cool stuff was in the DS and how many games did make use of it.
d. The whole game is connected to some Disney "metaverse" you can presumably (I doubt it still works) connect to - through out the game I've unlocked costumes/avatars/things? for this Disney-verse. Just a reminder that this metaverse really does go far back....
e. I don't have the box with me to check - but I think the game is "Tim Burton"-related? Which is weird because AFAIK there is no Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland...but perhaps there was? Or there were plans that didn't go anywhere?
I've made it to chapter 2 - but I'm probably near the end. I need to find the Mad Hatter for some reason...but the game might be much longer than I think? I have many of the map pieces, but the game is metroid-vania like in that characters have abilities that allow access to different parts of the world...we'll see how long I play, and how many more surprises there are.
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jp's Alice in Wonderland (DS)
Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated
GameLog started on: Tuesday 23 May, 2023
GameLog closed on: Wednesday 31 May, 2023
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