A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rise of the Guardians is based on the movie of the same name. It stars cartoonish, warrior-like versions of characters like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny who do battle against the Pitch (the Boogeyman) and his army of shadowy nightmare creatures. Santa spends the entire game running around with a sword in his hand, slicing and chopping away at his foes. This game could play havoc with kids' images of these semi-hallowed figures. As the game progresses kids will dispatch thousands of enemies with various weapons and magic. There is no blood or gore, and the heroes never fight humans, but the combat is constant. There's virtually nothing else to do in the game, save try to figure out its labyrinthine levels.
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What's it about?
Based on the Dreamworks movie, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS is an action game starring Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost in a fight against Pitch -- also known as the Boogeyman -- and his army of shadowy nightmare creatures. The Guardians, as they think of themselves, derive their power from the children who believe in them. They need to fight for kids' confidence in them by using swords, whips, and magic to defeat the smoky entities infesting their homes. Up to four players can play together at the same time (solo players can switch between characters at will), and all of the heroes slowly level up, gaining new abilities and powers as they dispatch baddies.
Is it any good?
Rise of the Guardians is essentially a dungeon crawler for kids, save that Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost are put in place of the usual elves, dwarves, and mages. It might seem a slight difference, but it feels significant when playing. Seeing Santa -- or "North," as he's called in the game -- running around and hacking away at spooky creatures with a sword seems like something better suited to an episode of South Park than a game for kids.
Story and characters aside, the game isn't half bad. The mazelike levels will test kids' navigational skills, and there are loads of items to collect and little objectives to complete (friends that need to be rescued from cages, pals that need to be kept safe from bad guys, etc.). Plus, a simple, intuitive leveling system, complete with growing attribute statistics, unlockable abilities, and skill-altering crystals provides a good reason to keep playing. It's all very basic stuff, but suitable for a first-time dungeon crawling experience. Too bad that Santa is the character whose attacks you're leveling up. That just seems wrong.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. What's too much for your kids? Do they know when to pull back from things that may be too frightening for them? What signs do you watch for in determining whether something may be too intense?
Families can also discuss our evolving perceptions of well-known, beloved characters. What do you think of a game or movie portraying a figure like Santa as a sword-wielding action hero? In what ways might it alter your thoughts about who they are and what they represent?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Price: $49.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: D3Publisher of America
- Release date: November 20, 2012
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and fantasy
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.