Before I get too far into this review, I would like to start by saying that Disney Tangled is not a game for people who have been glued to their DS systems for the past several years. It is a simple, short, linear and easy to play adventure game that will offer no challenge to advanced gamers. However, all of us in that category had start gaming somewhere. For me, it was playing Mr. Do really poorly on an Atari 2600, for my younger sister, it was Kirby?s Dreamland on the Game Boy, and for some little girl just starting to play games this year, it?ll be Disney Tangled on Nintendo DS, an adventure gaming boot camp wrapped in a Disney princess package.
The gameplay itself is well suited to Tangled?s storybook roots, as it takes the form of a basic adventure game set up much in the same manner as a read-along book. In it, the player guides Rapunzel, the cheerful and polite star of the game, through the story of the movie on which the game was based through sets of beginning-reader friendly text based cut scenes, carefully guided exploration, and simple mini games. Though it?s not a recipe for fast paced thrills and incredible suspense, the pleasant and slow paced tone of the game will draw in younger and beginning gamers frustrated by the difficulty of more advanced titles. Losses do not result in penalties, and the gradually increasing difficulty level will make it easy for kids to keep up as the game moves along. The controls are also intuitive enough that unnecessary frustration is avoided at all costs.
Even though Tangled makes for a fairly nice first video game, it is by no means a perfect title. The first, and most noticeable problem with this game is that it?s plagued by numerous long load times, something which I?ve never seen on a DS game before. They don?t completely ruin the game, but at some points which I?m sure will be noticed by helpful parents, they drag the game down from being slow paced to being a mind-numbing slog. The lack of a save-anywhere feature also seems strange in a kids? game, as the 20 to 40 minute intervals between auto-saves make it less than ideal for pick-up-and-play gaming or players with brief attention spans. It?s also worth knowing that the limited amount of mingames, which include jigsaw puzzles, reveal-the-picture scribble-fests, and Simon-says style music games, start to make things repetitive at times. As a whole, however, they?re alternated well enough that things stay relatively interesting.
As one might expect from a game with a Disney license, the presentation in Tangled is quite good. The music is comprised of nice sounding orchestral songs that never become grating, despite the fact that you tend to hear them on a loop for long periods of time. They aren?t particularly memorable once the game has been turned off, but the fact that they don?t stand out as horrible counts for a lot. Sound effects are handled in much the same manner, with even the shrillest indicators of defeat being made to sound fairly pleasant.
The graphics in Tangled are also, for the most part, very well done. The flat, Golden Book style illustrations that populate the cut scenes and backgrounds are cute and charming, looking much nicer than grainy stills from the movie would have while keeping the characters and locations recognizable. In the minigames, things are less stylish, but still clear enough that they don?t detract from the game?s look. What doesn?t do the game any favors, however, are the strange, Mortal Kombat style motion capture sprites used to represent characters as you explore. Against the pretty pastels of the detailed backgrounds, the choppily animated and dull looking sprites stick out like a headless and dirty GI Joe on a shelf of shrink wrapped Hello Kitty collectibles.
As a whole, while I wouldn?t recommend Tangled to any gamer out of grade school, it makes for a pretty good game to give to a fan of the movie without much gaming experience. The game?s connection to Disney Interactive?s new DGamer network, which is a bit like a junior edition of XBox Live, adds a lot to its value. Even if it is a way for Disney to further ingratiate itself into the life of the player, the abilities to build a detailed avatar, with new items for it unlockable through gameplay, and, with a wi-fi connnection, show off achievements and chat to other players, make DGamer an interesting feature with the potential to add hours worth of gameplay to the rather short main game. Though Tangled is not a remarkable game, it is a well-made title that will doubtlessly entertain its fair share of kids who loved the movie and want to relive its story over and over again.