Review: Alice In Wonderland (Wii)

Platform: Nintendo Wii

Developer: Etranges Libellules

Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios

# of Players: 1 – 2

Rating: E10+

Official Site

Score: B-

As with the Nintendo DS/DSi version of Alice In Wonderland, developer Etranges Libellules has done a great job, transforming what could have been a boring platform-hopping romp into a visually stunning, simple to play (yet challenging at times) experience. The Wii version uses the film’s look and much of its major voice talent with excellent results and while it’s not the longest game on the planet, a few tricky puzzles and combat should keep you entertained There’s co-op play here for those that crave companionship or want to share the fun, but it’s not quite perfect and actually can make the game a bit harder in some areas.

The game streamlines the movie plot somewhat into playable form, but you don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy this trip down the Rabbit Hole. You don’t control Alice directly – she’s led around by swapping out between five characters and using their abilities to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. The game has fun with introducing you to each character and showing you how to use the different abilities, but you’ll definitely want to pay attention when it comes to switching characters quickly in order to use different abilities in a row. Like the DS game, you’ll need to have a deft hand during some puzzles and battles or it’s a trip back to replay a tricky stretch or two.

True to form for a licensed game, you’ll have simple objectives, collectibles to nab and lots of enemies to defeat. There’s no butt-bouncing off platforms here, as taking down the opposition requires a good bit of Wii Remote action. As much fun as the game is in single player, the main bump in the pavement comes when a second player picks up a controller. Unless both players work together, the game can becomes a mess of wonky camera angles and do-overs if one person is distracted by something else other than helping out. Sure, aiming this title toward kids with parents who automatically buy or rent based on the movies they take the kids to is par for the course.

However, given that the film is yet another that’s far over the heads of most kids (as were Where The Wild Things Are and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), it might have been a lot more fun to see Alice as a strictly strange single player affair. I’m not sure if ELB tacked on the co-op during programming or just couldn’t get it running as well as they’d have liked to, but it’s the game’s biggest drawback. Then again, it’s a good thing I don’t make these sorts of programming or marketing decisions or we’d all be playing stuff like Silent Hill, Siren and Illbleed remakes along with a yearly Earth Defense Force update (EDF! EDF!).

Visually, ELB has done a spectacular job mixing Tim Burton’s super stylized elements along with the developer’s own great color use and fine level designs. There’s a certain “look” and feel to ELB’s games that’s immediately likable and makes me wish the did a lot more licensed games or at least something completely original that lets them cut loose and go all out. I don’t think anyone played their almost great PS2 version of Arthur & The Invisibles (which was not so hot a film), but I certainly did and enjoyed the parts that worked. The sound design and voice acting here is great overall with a few sound-alike actors mixed in with some of the film’s cast. The music is also excellent here and overall, the game’s production values are top notch.

While it’s not a massive epic you’ll spend weeks playing (not too many licensed games go that far above and beyond the call), overall, Alice in Wonderland is memorable enough to be a breath of fresh air in terms of pure stylized wackiness on screen. Etranges Libellules may not yet be a household name, but if they can keep putting out quality adaptations such as this, we’ll all be learning at least two extra words in French.

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