A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that violence is a part of this game's play. You must bash goblins with bats, stab them with swords, or squirt them with burning juice until they bleed green blood and fade away. Even more intense are the "boss battles" with Redcap, the leader of the goblins, and Malgarath, the scary-looking ogre. When playing with the Wii, you make the bashing motion while holding the Wii remote so you feel like you are whacking them to death. Even when you play as the good magical creature called Thimbletack, you must shoot cockroaches with needles to keep them from biting you. At times, kids can get lost within this world and be forced to run around just looking for a way out. Awkward camera angles force you to play blindly at times which can be frustrating.
What's it about?
THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES is the video game adaptation of movie based on Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's books. The game starts with the Grace children (twins Jared and Simon, and their sister Mallory) moving into an old house and discovering a rare old book that reveals the unseen world of magical creatures. Opening the book triggers the attention of the ogre Mulgarath, who sends hordes of goblins to the house to steal the book.
The action/adventure game offers 29 story-based missions, with an additional 28 side collection missions also available. Many of the story-based missions involve combat where you must fight goblins, trolls, or the big scary ogre Mulgarath. Usually you play as one of the Grace children; but for a few platform puzzle missions, you play as the tiny magical brownie creature known as Thimbletack. Capturing fairy sprites is also part of the gameplay, which provides you with additional powers during combat. To get a fairy's help, you have to paint its picture in a timed mini-game. On the Wii, the painting involves pointing the Wii remote at the screen and making broad painting motions.
Is it any good?
The game does a good job of recreating the film's version of the Spiderwick estate and surrounding woods. It even incorporates video scenes from the film to move the story along. And being able to change characters helps to sustain your interest in the gameplay, although their abilities don't differ much.
But the overall gameplay doesn't feel fresh or magical. It has a lot of combat without much control over how you fight. To move the game forward, you must kill goblins by smacking them repeatedly with a baseball bat or stabbing them repeatedly with a sword. At times, their attacks seem relentless. And taking on the bigger baddies is even more intense. Violent gameplay is even infused into the platform gaming when you play as the brownie Thimbletack because, during your explorations, you must throw needles into cockroaches to nail them to the wall and kill them. The game also suffers from occasional bad camera angles. At times you can't see the enemy who is attacking you, so you must fight blindly hoping for the best. The camera system can also keep you in the dark when jumping onto platforms.
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