In Lewis Carroll%26rsquo;s Alice in Wonderland, the heroine eats a cake to grow larger, drinks a potion to grow smaller and meets all manner of extraordinary characters. It%26rsquo;s an interesting starting point for a videogame and when focused through the prism of Tim Burton%26rsquo;s imagination, even more so.
The surprise is that you don%26rsquo;t play Alice. Instead, she spends the game congratulating you for minor feats, getting captured by guards and cowering on the Mad Hatter%26rsquo;s hat. However you do get to play as the Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the March Hare and the Dormouse. Each of them has a unique ability that is vital to progress through the strange world Carroll invented and Burton re-imagined.
Ultimately, much of the success of this title can be placed at Tim Burton%26rsquo;s door. The environments and characters are marvellous. They strike just the right balance between lovable and sinister %26ndash; Stephen Fry%26rsquo;s Cheshire Cat and Johnny Depp%26rsquo;s Mad Hatter are particularly good.
But the cleverness of the game%26rsquo;s level design is also worthy of praise. Puzzles are multi-faceted, meaning you%26rsquo;ll need to switch between characters to solve them. Often a level%26rsquo;s perspective will be turned on its head. Essentially this disguises the fact that underneath it all this is just another Lego-style platformer %26ndash; albeit a clever and charming one.
It%26rsquo;s not a huge adventure but there are plenty of highlights. Whether you%26rsquo;re reassembling a tumble-down, topsy-turvey house whilst under siege from malevolent playing cards, or taking down a boss by removing an eyeball with a hatpin, the game isn%26rsquo;t afraid to take dark turns away from your average child-friendly movie licence.
The result is hardly original but it%26rsquo;s well made, enjoyable and occasionally surprising. At heart it%26rsquo;s well made but unremarkable %26ndash; yet, like the Mad Hatter himself, it%26rsquo;s dressed up eccentrically and packed with enough quirks to keep things interesting.
Mar 3, 2010