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The Tale of Despereaux (DS)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a video game based on the movie The Tale of Despereaux. While it is a side-scrolling platform game with envionmental puzzles, it also has some combat, so if you are looking for a violence-free game, this isn't it. The violence is very mild and involves the lead character, Despereaux the mouse, wielding a sewing needle sword to dispatch bugs and other creatures that get in his way. The hit creatures fade away, without any blood. There is also a console version of this game with the same name, but it is a completely different game.
What's it about?
This is a DS video game that is based on the movie The Tale of Despereaux, which follows the story of the Newberry Award-winning book of the same name by Kate DiCamillo. The story portion about how a little brave mouse rescues a princess from some evil rats unfolds via text in between 36 levels of short gameplay. Each level is a side-scrolling adventure across a new environment filled with platforming challenges, critter enemies, as well as puzzles involving objects you can pick up and move. You play as the little mouse hero Despereaux and see the world from his perspective.
You use the multi-directional pad to make Despereaux move, and use the "A," "B," "X," and "Y" buttons to make him do special things like jump, crouch, use grapple hooks, and wield his sword. He can also scurry up walls, jump from wall to wall, and climb up ropes. The DS stylus is used to transfer flames from lit torches to unlit candles and torches.
Is it any good?
While this is a linear game which doesn't take very long to complete (under 5 hours), it's gameplay is fun and the 36 levels are inventive. For example, when you encounter some menacing rats, if you lead them back to a mousetrap which you jump over, they will run right over it and get snagged. Likewise, if you transfer light from a torch to a candle, the mean rats will cower, shake with fear, and ignore you.
This game is great for kids because it has frequent save points and a generous number of lives so when you fall off a cliff or get attacked by rats, you will be returned to a spot close to where you were in the level and can try to figure out a better way to proceed. There are even hidden musical notes in each level which, if found, unlock the 6 bonus levels. So there is a motivation to go back to a level and replay it. The graphics are also quite good, making this mouse-viewed world fascinating to explore.
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