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Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure - Wii Review

Game Info
Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure

Wii | Disney Interactive Studios / High Impact Games | 1-2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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4th October 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

It is said that one who sows with diligence will bear results. But does this still apply in situations marked by forlorn conditions? Not all can find the silver lining in a dead-end job, or see to it that such circumstances don't predetermine a disposition towards negative thinking. But then you have other persons who have such energy about them that they don't allow such influences to dictate their attitudes. Linking this, now, to the Disney Princess lineup, these stories of down-to-earth heroism reinforce, among other things, strong will over circumstantial victimization. With roots stemming from the very pillars used to support these stories, Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure emphasizes formal, disciplined treatment as both a mainstay and a point of parallelism to link back to the character of each individual princess featured therein. When you develop a game fashioned closely after these values, you might say there's a foregone conclusion that the result would be an uplifting creation. In the spirit of imitation, however, it's a shame that these civilized mannerisms don't lend themselves to the empowering kind of reciprocation often allowed for in Disney's treasured tales. In so doing, what we're left with is a somewhat recessive system where the only dream being pursued and portrayed is that of working as a drone within a superficial support system.

    In the game, players will take control of a young female who serves as the Fairy Godmother's appointed apprentice in training and comes ready to be customized. One not-so-fine day, a misapplied wave of her Crystal Wand causes those responsible for the upkeep of the Magic Garden (Sprites) to go awry and transform into Imps. Bent on causing trouble, the guardians escape with special crystals into the five portal rooms, each leading to a world starring a different Disney Princess -- one of which only becomes available once the other four have been cleared. It's your job to, not restore lost peace as is often the custom, but recover the stolen items in the interim of completing tasks for the heroines. The portal room serves as your main hub between Fairy Kingdom and the different storybook-inspired worlds hosted by Cinderella, Tiana, Ariel, Belle, and Rapunzel. Navigation involves the use of the Analog Stick for movement, while the A Button is used for jumping, a sideways shake of the Wii Remote will execute your Twirl Magic move, and either a forward swing or a press of the B Button will shoot a blast of homing pixie dust off into the distance. Wand control is fairly responsive, but the pace that your character actually travels at is a bit on the sluggish side. Additionally, when taking on the mermaid form for Ariel's underwater world, it can be annoying trying to direct yourself to move downwards in an environment that changes between 3D and 2D navigation on the fly. But if that's all the game presents in the way of control issues, I'd say that's not a bad turnout.

The locations designed for the game should be immediately familiar to anyone who has seen the movies of the respective characters. Each adventure will offer two chapters with a change in setting between them. The only exceptions to this are Ariel and Tiana; the former has one setting across both chapters, and the latter only gets a single, rather abbreviated chapter. The environments are pretty standard in scope and medium in size, with invisible walls that limit exploration, and the occasional spot for rest (though I'm not sure why you'd want to). Of the different worlds, I found the settings crafted for Belle's and Rapunzel's world to be the best in terms of design, because while they weren't vast, they presented enough areas to traverse to be interesting to the average player. That isn't to say the others are uninteresting; just that they aren't as flexible to the idea of presenting an especially inviting space.

    Cutscenes are used on a regular basis to display the interactions between your on-screen character and the folks that inhabit the worlds you visit. It's not uncommon to observe voiceovers not matching the mouth animations of the respective characters as they talk, or, to a lesser extent, character models not being a very good likeness of the characters they're based on (Ursula being but one example). What is more, some of the models of the NPC's are repeated and reskinned across worlds and even within the same chapters. On a more positive note, the easygoing music selection features an assortment of bouncy and soft tunes, some of which carry a tone of "What a fine mess I've gotten myself into!" while others, like the theme for Belle's manor, are just plain nice to listen to. All things considered, one should not expect anything in the way of a truly immersive experience, but there are aspects to the game's environmental design that work adequately, if not nicely. 

As for what you'll actually be doing in these spaces, it is asserted that the best way to wedge your way into the lives of these princesses is by "earning" their friendship through the completion of short missions. Connecting to your main objective are the principal tasks of reverting the Imps back to their normal state, and this is something you'll involve yourself in on a regular basis, whether on foot with manual waves of your wand, or through target aiming using the controller's pointer. Other missions will boil down to one of the following mini-game premises: collecting treasures or save falling items in a 2D space; sneaking past a large enemy to retrieve an item; bursting coloured bubbles as if you were playing Bust-a-Move; playing back sound effects in a game of Simon Says; observing and selecting the appropriate item in a shuffle; or putting puzzle pieces back together. There's also one activity that involves "dancing" with the Wii Remote, but not only is there no real feedback, no input at all will still automatically give you three out of five stars. Times where you're not engaged in a mini-game are rare, and these segments are often just really basic platforming mostly with button-prompted movements. The entire game is really just a continuous rehash of the same activities -- activities that aren't that entertaining to begin with and are only made interesting in their initial state because they were imposed upon you by someone you probably admire.

    Really, for the sorts of errands you're asked to do -- and without a second thought, either -- the term "apprentice" is pretty accurate; albeit, I'd be much more inclined to compare the player's interactions to that of an intern. Mind you, it's an appreciated relationship on their end, but still a pretty superficial one. There's little connecting with the support characters, as it often feels like your willingness to help is being taken advantage of, not because they actually see you as a friend in the truest sense. For the purposes of developing a lasting relationship with the characters and the game itself, there truly is no rest for the weary, and rather than this entire arrangement being a mutually beneficial one or even something that can be learned from, all these activities do is remind you of how much more the game could have done to really connect players to the worlds they're sprung into. By the same token, the repetition isn't completely draining, so I suppose that's a positive I can highlight from all of this, but it's still felt and hard to ignore.

Truthfully, it's disappointing to see that the developers have more or less given players the work of a servant, and furthermore, that the use of safe design mechanics to extend the experience somehow equates to something memorable. I wouldn't have a problem with the methodology if it were not for the fact that the Disney brand is anything but ordinary, and when borrowing from something as established as this, it's hard not to view with less regard what should've met to those same levels of penetration. But you know, perhaps more bothersome than all of the above is the game's devotion towards using interruptions and delivery of direction as a constant.

    Almost everything you do in this game will be prefaced by a dialog box and vocal announcement of some kind telling you what to do, even for mini-games you've successfully completed in the past. When you so much as suggest as a diversion from the current task by trying to open a locked treasure chest, the game essentially tells you, "No touching foreign objects while you've got work to do." The same occurs if you stumble along the way; the game will repeat the directions as if you somehow forgot what the goal was in the short space of time following your defeat. While you're out on the field after completing a mission and are told that another awaits, you don't have to guess where to go because you're guided to every successive destination, not only by way of these vocal remarks and subtitles, but also by glowing trails. This occurs even when the character you need to speak with next is only a few feet away from you. You feel like cutting the game off and yelling, "Yes, I know that she's right in front of me!" There is far too much of this taking place and it happens until the very end of the experience. This is narration taken to a condescending level, as if the game were trying to make up for an apparent ineptitude on the part of young players. That, or the developers were consciously trying to protect themselves from incurring criticism over a lack of direction. Either way, because everything is so heavily dictated, the entire adventure feels robotic in the sense that there's very little exploration you can do on your own terms; a view that is supported by the very nature of the game's design.

As far as longevity, Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure is a minimum three-hour experience, with, at most, up to four hours of gameplay that can be entertained either in a single-player or co-operative capacity. Within that time, aside from the main adventures, one can also take breaks in between to freshen up the garden with new floral arrangements, exchange collected gems for new outfits or items for your room, and seek out unopened treasure chests in worlds you've completed previously. However, none of these activities will have you coming back to the game after you've seen all there is, nor do the worlds offer additional objectives to complete.

    Regrettably, Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure is very much bound by its design, built on somewhat weak legs and with a repetition that's certainly cohesive but ultimately makes for an outcome with dubious success. Rather than making young players feel like they're really partnering with their favourite heroines in a memorable fashion, about all the game will manage to do is trigger a few smiles and prompt another viewing of one or more of the referenced movies. Much time is spent trying to find reasons to justify its structure, and while there are attributes to the environments that are welcoming, the purpose behind your presence and the habitual usage of quest-driven gameplay crowd out the idea of a worthy adventure.

17/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Standard design, regular task completion isn't very positive, same activities being rehashed, condescending in a certain respect
Presentation 7/10 - Some environments are quite nice both in design and visuals, some models could've been better, decent music, other minor issues
Enjoyment 2/5 - Mini-games to fill the experience aren't that fun, more could've been done in the way of immersion, repetitive though not severely so
Extra Content 2/5 - Support for a co-operative play, decent customization, side tasks to perform, nothing worthwhile to further the experience

Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure
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