The Spiderwick Chronicles review

A decent 2-hour movie becomes a tiring 8-hour game

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However, it is a bad idea to force players to "draw" fairy sprites as a condition of catching them. Fairy sprites are fun to use. They let you recover health, throw whirlwinds, and unleash other spells on nearby goblins. When you swing your net to catch one, a painting minigame comes up. If you move the brush around and uncover enough of the image before time runs out, you get to keep the fairy. If not, it'll fly away. It's the sort of quick minigame that's fine on an occasional basis, but here you have to do it for each of the 60 or so fairies you come across.

The movie briskly drags the characters through six or seven tiny set locations. In order to stretch the experience and make these areas seem bigger, the game's designers decided to make players fetch multiple objects just to get past every obstacle. Need an acorn? You'll need to get a toy jack from Aunt Lucy, navigate the ducts of the house as Thimbletack to retrieve the combination to Arthur's safe, and then open the safe to collect the acorn. Need to put together Simon's squirt gun? Get ready to kill 30 minutes searching the house, grounds, and garden for the parts you need.

Wandering back and forth through the same areas to collect one silly object after another will drive you "This is Sparta" raving mad, especially when you realize that you have to collect every fairy sprite and finish every last side quest just to see how the story ends. Yes, the story is heartwarming, and it is engaging, but it's also mainly delivered through the video scenes that were taken from the movie. You could just watch that in its entirety in a quarter of the time it'd take you to play this game (and you'd have more fun).

Feb 27, 2008

More info

DescriptionThis bland, by-the-numbers adventure would take an hour or two to finish if not for exasperatingly numerous fetch quests and a lame drawing minigame that you must complete 60+ times if you actually want to see the ending.
Platform"Xbox 360","Wii","DS","PC","PS2"
US censor rating"Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+"
UK censor rating"","","","",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)