Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer - hands-on

After we'd dodged his stomps and swipes and whipped him a few times with the flaming stick, the grizzly ran off, leading us straight to Gray Bear's cave. Here, we earned our first real weapon, a tomahawk, and set out to destroy a few golden beetles, the glowing blood of which was apparently necessary to read a few cave paintings. We also had a chance to possess and control a skunk, which was awesome.

Unfortunately for Brave, though, the cheery, kid-friendly atmosphere wasn't enough to keep things from turning sour for him. Once he'd finished the lengthy tutorial, the Grand Theft Auto-style map and "mobile stone" he'd used to talk to Gray Bear went dead, and flames rose up on the horizon. The Wendigo, a mythical monster represented here as a sort of gigantic red floating cow skeleton, was attacking the village and turning its residents into mindless zombies.

Long story short, Brave has to set out to find Spirit Dancer, a powerful shaman who once defeated the Wendigo years before. But he didn't leave before encountering a bunch of tough skeleton warriors and - just before getting turned into zombie chow - earning the ability to summon a giant ghost bear to do his fighting for him.

Brave looks weird and silly, and at first blush it seems like just another Tak- or Jak-style platformer. Even so, we have to admit we're impressed with how smoothly the game plays so far. The PS2 isn't exactly starved for decent platform-hopping adventures, but there's a lot of potential here. If the rest of the game is as interesting as what we've seen so far, then this might actually be worth a look when it ships in August.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.