The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 6.0
Gameplay : 6.5
Multiplayer : 6.5
Overall : 6.3
Review by John K.
The Chronicles of Narnia had already been successful in literature, television and most recently in film. Coinciding with the blockbuster movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe are the videogames released on all major consoles and Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance and DS. Although the Nintendo DS version is not quite as good as the console version, it seems to hold its own, barring some minor issues. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on the Nintendo DS makes for an average hack and slash RPG.

The story of the Narnia videogame is approximately the same as the movie, where the only difference is that in the videogame players get to play bits of the movie that weren’t shown in the movie itself. The eventual goal is the same as in the movie; defeat the White Witch and save the land of Narnia. Battling through the game, each of the four children will gain experience points and will eventually level up. With each gained level, the characters will get a virtue point which can be spent on four stats: health, defense, strength and willpower. While health, defense and strength speak for themselves, willpower increases the amount of times a certain skill can be used, like a magic meter. Leveling up characters can be done completely at the player’s will, meaning that players won’t necessarily have to opt for raising Lucy’s willpower per se. If players want to make a strength beast out of Lucy, they can choose to do so, which makes the game pretty flexible in terms of customizability of the characters.

Each of the Pevensie children has their own strengths, weaknesses and unique abilities. This helps bring balance to the game, because most of the quests involve one or more characters tagging along with the player to provide assistance. Players will be able to switch between the characters during gameplay by pressing one of the shoulder buttons on the Nintendo DS. Peter and Edmund are short distance attackers with swords, Susan uses long range attacks with her bow and arrow and the little Lucy only has a dagger to protect herself. The combination of these attacks makes for an entertaining bunch and adds enough variation into the combat system. The biggest problem here is that the game can’t handle larger amounts of characters well without significant slowdown. When more than seven or eight characters are on screen, the game lags tremendously to the point where the game becomes almost unplayable. During combat, players can tap the bottom screen to change the strategy of the other characters to attack, defense, heal or support. Switching strategies during gameplay can be a bit confusing at first, but once players get the hang of it, it can be quite handy.

There’s only one health meter for all of the four characters combined, and while this might strike some players as odd at first, it’s actually quite handy. When the meter is empty, the next strike will knock down the character for a few seconds. Once all of the four characters are knocked down, the adventure will be over, forcing players to restart from the last checkpoint. The environmental conditions also affect the characters’ ability to perform well. A cold meter is displayed on screen and when the characters are warm they will gain more experience points than they would when they were freezing. This is a great addition to the game, keeping in mind that Narnia has been frozen by the White Witch. Narnia on the Nintendo DS isn’t overly hard, while some adjusting to the aiming system in the game might be necessary. It can be a bit difficult to defeat enemies in the earlier levels of the game, but as the game progresses and battles become bigger with more characters at players’ disposal, the combat system feels more natural.

Narnia being frozen could have resulted in the game being one big white environment with no real variation, but clever inclusion of dungeons have eliminated this. Dungeons are full of enemies for experience and have a boss on the end. Defeating each end boss results in saving an ally. In the main world, dungeons are marked out on the map, but the dungeons themselves don’t have a map at all. This can get pretty frustrating further in the game where the dungeons become larger and harder. Getting lost is easy in the dungeons and finding the way back can be hard without a map, but it certainly keeps players busy.

Narnia on the DS features four-player multiplayer action where players can simultaneously battle through the adventure. This works well, although making it accessible for players to jump in and out of the action at any time would’ve made the multiplayer option even more interesting. Each player needs a separate game cart to be part of a multiplayer game.

Graphically, Narnia on the DS is up to par. The environments are beautifully rendered, but the power of the DS might be falling short. The lag can be terribly annoying at times when there are a bunch of characters on screen and the overall game pace is just a tad too slow to be completely enjoyable. The visual effects are well done, but nothing worth praising too much. The exterior of the characters changes when equipment is changed, which is a nice addition to the graphical presentation of Narnia on the DS.

The music in Narnia is well done and sounds a lot like it does in the movie. While the music in the game is great, the sound effects are terrible. The small set of noises and grunts will become tiring easily and are best left muted. The ambient sounds in the game are hardly noticeable, but do add to the game’s overall atmosphere.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on the Nintendo DS is a big mix of somewhat clumsy gameplay and great use of the environmental conditions of the land of Narnia. The game will appeal to the fans of the books and movie, but it’s much too average for other fans of the RPG genre. Narnia on the DS is an RPG which tries to innovate, but isn’t really worth stepping through the closet for.