Maybe you love The Spiderwick Chronicles book series or know someone who does. Or, perhaps you saw the recent movie and wanted to stomp the goblins yourself. Regardless of the reasons you have for taking an interest in the video game based on the movie, we're here to give you a big old Thimbletack style warning: The Spiderwick Chronicles game is the kind of dull, tedious 3D adventure that gives movie cash-ins a bad name.
There's nothing wrong on the technical front. The 3D renditions of the house, grounds, forest, and quarry from the movie are beautiful. We especially loved the individual blades of grass in the PC and Xbox 360 versions. Jared, Simon, Mallory, and the other characters in the game look and sound just right. Actual video clips taken from the movie help advance the story along. Tying everything together is a whimsical soundtrack that strikes a bizarre cross between Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" and modern new-age musician Yanni.
What's busted is the game's design, or, more specifically, how excessively protracted most tasks are. On a basic level, you're supposed to alternate control between the four different characters and freely explore the in-game world to beat up goblins, catch fairy sprites, and track down the items you need to access locked areas. Jared's bat, Simon's squirt gun, and Mallory's sword all function similarly, and you're constantly running into the same green and red goblins, which means combat gets old fast. So, the developers put in some chase scenes and platform jumping sections to spice things up. OK, that actually isn't a bad idea.