by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on X360
From book to movie to game
When you were a child, did you believe in a world of ogres and trolls, faeries and salamanders? Did you like to hear fantasy stories before bedtime? Yes? You’re not the only one. The Spiderwick Chronicles are a series of fantasy books for children that has recently been brought to the silver screen. As is the custom these days, the movie release was accompanied by a video game.
The Spiderwick Chronicles follow the adventures of older sister Mallory and her twin brothers Jared and Simon. The three children (and their mother) move into the estate of Arthur Spiderwick, a researcher who disappeared many years ago. After Jared discovers a hidden study and a book called “The Field Guide”, a magical world of faeries and goblins opens up for the children.
An Ogre called Mulgarath wishes to control the book because he needs it to take over the world. He is helped in his mission by minion goblins. The children are tasked to keep the book away from him, and are helped by a brownie named Thimbletack. Honestly, I can’t explain what a ‘brownie’ is, but Thimbletack looks like a green rodent in clothes at times and then a 2 foot tall person at others, if that helps.
All control differently
Over the course of the game, the player takes control of the children and Thimbletack. All the children play differently, with different attacks and powers. Simon, the brainy one, is slower, but has access to a squirt gun that contains a goblin-killing potion. Mallory is an expert fencer and fast, though she sacrifices a bit of power. Jared wields a baseball bat and is the most balanced of the group. You never control which character you use, the game does that for you.
The most unique, though, is Thimbletack. Being a Brownie, Thimbletack has a different perspective on the world. He helps the children by finding things inside the house. There is very little combat involved when you get to play him. Most of the challenges in Thimbletack’s levels involving jumping, which is basically handled for you, though you are able to change your direction in midair.
The combat boils down to pressing the A button, with the occasional pressing of the X button to dodge. Faeries are everywhere in the game, and can be captured to gain a special power. To capture a Faerie, the player must partake in a short minigame where the player has to paint the Faerie in the field guide before time runs out. For the first couple times, when you are unfamiliar with the Faerie’s shape, you can expect to fail if you don’t know where to paint. Eventually you become accustomed to their shape, and it gets fairly repetitive capturing Faeries and painting the same way over and over again.
As mentioned, the Faeries bestow different abilities on the player. A few examples include a diversion Faerie that attracts all enemies toward it; a whirlwind attack, health, invulnerability, and a Faerie that makes your character run faster. Outside of the health Faerie and a puzzle that requires the use of the Faeries, the game doesn’t rely too heavily on the system.
The graphics don’t really impress and look more like what you would expect from the original Xbox. The character models are faithful to that of the actors who represent them, but the enemy designs get repetitive fast. Occasionally, the game does show off some interesting designs in bosses. Still, this doesn’t save the game from having sub-par graphics, bad hit detection (I could swear I hit that goblin through the tree), and a loading screen that I seem to recognize from my old Windows 98 OS.
No Pros and Cons at this time