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Tangled: The Video Game

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, Wii
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Disney Interactive Studios
Release Date: Nov. 23, 2010 (US), Feb. 4, 2011 (EU)


NDS Review - 'Disney's Tangled: The Video Game'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

A story-based adventure game inspired by the world and characters featured in the 3D animated Disney film Tangled, Disney Tangled: The Video Game is an action-packed comedy adventure for audiences of all ages.

"Disney's Tangled" is the story of Princess Rapunzel. Before she was born, Rapunzel's mother grew deathly ill, and the only thing that could save her was a magic flower. Drinking a broth made from the flower saved the queen's life, but it came with an unusual side effect. When Rapunzel was born, she had long golden hair that glowed with the same life-restoring power as the flower. Unfortunately for the royal family, an evil old witch named Gothel had been using the flower to maintain her own life and beauty. When it was taken, she was forced to take desperate measures. She kidnapped Rapunzel and locked her in a faraway tower for many years, tricking Rapunzel with stories about the "dangerous" outside world. The young girl's only joy in life was a series of mysterious lights that appeared in the sky every year on her birthday.

When a thief named Flynn Rider breaks into the tower during an escape from the royal guards, he unexpectedly loses his valuable treasure to Rapunzel. The girl makes a deal with him: Take her to see the source of the lights, and she'll return his treasure. Together, the duo leaves the tower and sets out toward the royal capital, the source of the lights. Along the way, they're hounded by Gothel, who's desperate to retrieve Rapunzel before the girl learns her true identity.

Disney's Tangled: The Video Game is a pretty straightforward adaptation of the movie. There are a few additional sequences that add some heft to the story, but they don't drastically change things. The word choice is very simple and well-chosen, so it isn't difficult for young readers to get through the game without an older gamer's help. This makes it a good game for younger children who are just learning to read, as there is a lot of simple text. The chapter-based design also makes it a good choice for something to play before bed while still encouraging the child to learn new words. However, its design also makes it harder to put down the game before the chapter is finished, so it could be frustrating for kids who have to take a break before the levels are done.

Tangled is a basic adventure game. Players guide Rapunzel around simple 2-D environments using the d-pad. Tapping on various items on the screen with the stylus triggers them. Sometimes this opens doors or investigates objects, and other times, you'll use Rapunzel's magic hair to reverse the flow of time to restore broken objects or sick people. You'll sometimes blow into the DS microphone to move objects or startle characters. It's very easy and designed to be as accessible as possible for young kids. Moving around and exploring requires very little effort and should cause no problems, even for the youngest of gamers.

There are very few puzzles in Tangled, but the ones you will encounter are very clear-cut. In an early puzzle, a little girl asks you to find something that resembles a cat in order to scare her nasty brothers. Solving the puzzle involves pushing away bushes until you find a skunk and then bringing it right back. Aside from finding the skunk, everything in the game is automated. If you have the right item, it will automatically be used. This makes it a fun game for younger kids, but it risks losing their attention after a while. In many ways, this is little more than a slightly interactive storybook. You're also rewarded for poking around the various environments with Sun Drops, which have little worth but are fun collectables that encourage exploration.

In addition to the regular puzzles, you'll occasionally come across minigames. You get some tutorial text and then you must finish a simple task ranging from brushing tangles and weeds from Rapunzel's hair to catching fireflies in a lantern or mixing magic potions to help a forgetful gardener. Some minigames are timed while others continue until the player makes a mistake. Most of the minigames are built around the DS' touch-screen, although some make use of the d-pad instead. The minigames are designed to be as simple as possible, and you only have to be mildly successful. One of the games involves playing a quick game of Simon Says. You only need to complete four cycles before the game considers it a success. You can keep going for as long as you'd like, but you're not obligated in any way. Even if you fail the minigame, you're told that you did a "good job" and are given another chance at it. This makes it very accessible, even for young gamers. The only potential flaw is that the instructions are sometimes slightly unclear and may frustrate younger players.

Tangled's minigames are cute, but they are entirely too repetitive. There are a few sequences where you'll repeat the same minigame over and over again, without any variation except a slight visual change. While there's nothing wrong with repeating minigames, Tangled does it so often that even children will rapidly grow bored. Minigame collections usually benefit from having a wide variety, but Tangled doesn't pull this off.  There is an option to skip the minigames by spending Sun Drops, but that doesn't really alleviate the problem. While the storybook style of the adventure portion makes it a good choice for kids, the minigames feel lackluster and don't really improve the overall value of the game. The minigames get harder as the game progresses, but they're never so difficult to cause a roadblock.

For such a simple game, Tangled is surprisingly not optimized. The game suffers from slowdown when anything noteworthy happens on-screen. Pressing a flower to make a Sun Drop pop out causes noticeable lag. It's a minor problem, but it seems weird. Far more annoying is the loading time. Any time you switch screens to attempt to talk to a character, you're given a loading screen. It's not a long delay, but it's shockingly lengthy for a Nintendo DS game. It slows down everything and can get quite annoying if you're performing a quest with a lot of between-screen travel or talking. A child who misses a necessary item to continue the story may grow frustrated by the loading times.

Tangled is a reasonably nice-looking game. Instead of the 3-D visuals of the movie, Tangled uses a watercolor art style, similar to the movie's ending credits. The characters are distinctive and recognizable despite the art style shift, and it shouldn't cause any confusion to younger kids. The environments are nice, but the characters are almost entirely static. In particular, Rapunzel looks very odd. Her signature hair constantly breaks apart and rarely looks like it is connected to the rest of her body. Considering that the movie is all about said hair, it's odd that it is the worst-looking thing in the game. The soundtrack is bland and unmemorable, and very little effort seems to have been put into it. Considering that the movie version of Tangled has a fairly nice soundtrack, it's a shame that the game's soundtrack feels so plain.

Disney's Tangled: The Video Game isn't a bad game for young kids. Anyone over the age of 10 is going to find it too simple and repetitive, but younger children will find a fair amount to like. The storybook chapter style makes it a good choice for young readers, but the minigames are distinctly unsatisfying, and there are plenty of other, better minigame collections on the market. Since the game has relatively little replay value without the minigames, it makes Tangled a tough title to recommend to anyone but the most eager fans of the movie.

Score: 7.0/10

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