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Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer

Platform(s): PlayStation 2
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Developer: VIS

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PS2 Review - 'Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer'

by Steven Mills on May 9, 2007 @ 12:38 a.m. PDT

Set in a fantastic world based upon the mythology of Native America, the game tells the coming of age story of 'Brave' a young Native American boy embarking on an epic journey to save his tribe. When his village is set upon by the evil Wendigo, and his friends are enslaved, Brave is sent to find the only one that can free them - Spirit Dancer, the greatest Shaman who ever lived.

Genre: 3D Platform Adventure
Publisher: Evolved Games
Developer: Vis Entertainment
Release Date: April 3, 2007

Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer is an immersive world based upon Native American mythology. You are Brave, a young boy who must embark on an epic journey to save your tribe from the dangerous Wendigo, an evil villain who enslaved your friends and attacked your town. Brave must seek out the Spirit Dancer, the greatest shaman ever to walk the lands, in order to free his friends and save the day.

While searching for the Spirit Dancer, Brave will encounter Wendigo's evil henchmen who will try to prevent him from rescuing his tribe. He will face challenges such as a pack of tainted wolves, a stampede of buffalo-riding henchmen, and even canoe down dangerous river rapids in search of his location. The world is mapped out with beautiful landscapes, odd creatures, and nice friends.

Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer is reminiscent of 3D Mario, the classic Croc, and even a bit of Kameo. Brave must travel around not only searching for the Spirit Dancer, but also seeking mentors and ancient paintings to learn new skills and abilities of his Native American heritage. Each new ability enhances the experience and adds another new possibility to the things you can do while playing as Brave. Often when you learn a new skill, it is a necessity that the skill must be used in the very near future. The abilities you learn include swimming, fishing, throwing a hammer at your enemies, and even flying on birds and piloting them.

The controls of Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer are very similar to any other 3D platformer. You use the left analog stick to move around, the right analog stick to move the camera, and the other buttons to use your skills. A majority of the game is spent running around and utilizing the jump button to hop over distances without falling to your doom. Initial enemies can be slapped around a bit to deal damage, and as the game goes on, you obtain weapons such as a hammer to hurl at your foes; even later, you obtain magical abilities which can help bring down your enemies even faster and to be honest, in a more eye-soothing way.

As Brave meets up with mentors and prophets of the Native American tribe, he unlocks new ways of interacting with the world and, more importantly, the animals that inhabit it. Using the tricks and secrets of your native tongue, Brave is able to influence the way animals act, command them to do certain things, and even control them through their eyes. For example, Brave is seeking out one of the items needed to continue his quest, but he cannot reach it himself, so he takes control of a mouse to travel through small openings to reach the item and bring it back.

The Native American setting — featuring mythological aspects of the heritage, as well as environments such as the spirit plane — was about as good as can be expected for the PlayStation 2 console. I enjoyed the worlds very much and honestly wish there were more to see, although Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer does provide a pleasing amount of areas to explore. From environments to weather and water effects, the title looks good for the genre and platform, and its cartoonish look fits the overall story and feel of the game.

The sound and music for Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer were also as appealing and fitting as the visual presentation. Music sounded like it belonged in a tribal ritual, although it was mixed with sweeping melodies to impart an epic feel, similar to Lord of the Rings and Eragon. The sound effects were done perfectly in synchronization with their events, such as screaming enemies, gushing rapids, hot steam geysers, and general ambience.

Unfortunately, Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer contains no multiplayer whatsoever, although I could see many possibilities in which such a mode could have been successfully implemented. A general co-operative mode would be fun, contribute greatly to its replay value, and have possibly helped the score a bit. In its present state, this title is certainly for players who want to enjoy a pleasant, nice, and happy storyline while traveling through a Native American world as a 3D platformer.

Despite the name and perhaps even general storyline, the game is not aimed simply for a young audience; sure, they will enjoy it, but so would 3D platformer fans of all ages. Two things, however, that I can point out which may turn you away, are the difficulty level and replayability. I never once met my doom during my travels, and after completing the entire game in about six hours, I don't have the desire to play through it again.

With all of the facts filtered in about Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer and its gameplay, the decision is really up to you. If you are a fan of Native American heritage or mythological events, or if you are looking for an excellent 3D platformer, this title certainly delivers. However, if you are looking for a long game with any replay value at all, or some modicum of difficulty, then Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer certainly isn't for you. I'd recommend renting it before buying it (it is after all only $29.99), especially because in the short rental period, you can most likely beat the game ... several times.

Score: 7.4/10


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