Wizards of Waverly PlaceESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer - Disney Interactive Studios
Publisher - Disney Interactive Studios
Touch Screen Compatible
Make no doubt about it; my daughter loves her Disney TV shows. Whether it be Zack and Cody, Hannah Montana, Cory in the House or Wizards of Waverly Place; she watches every new episode usually more than once. Unfortunately when it comes to the Disney DS games based on the aforementioned shows, my daughter has been disappointed more often than not. So when Wizards of Waverly Place for the DS arrived, I reluctantly handed the game over to my daughter hoping this Disney game could buck the trend. Much to my surprise she really enjoyed the game but it wasn't too long before she 'hit a wall' and stopped playing the game altogether.
When it comes to the visuals, I was quite satisfied considering we have seen some real stinkers from Disney DS games over the past couple of years. It is not a great looking game, but the overall presentation stays true to the TV show and the game’s characters are nicely rendered. For more mature gamers, the visuals appear weak, but for those fans of the show who are also the games target audience, they likely will not have issues with the games graphics.
What the kids will love most is playing with the shows main character, Alex.
She has a cartoony and borderline bobble head look about her, but she still very recognizable. Other characters such as Justin, Max, and their Parents are, for the most part, easily recognizable too. The games environments are very colourful and bright. The environments are much better than I expected and there was a decent amount of detail contained within each room or setting. Overall, there is nothing visually awe-inspiring in this game but it is perfectly suited for its audience and as I suggested, it is an upgrade over some of the other Disney DS games on the market.
The sounds in the game are about what I expected and do not leave any lasting impressions. The music is repetitive and seemingly loops over and over. The in-game music sounds like nearly all of DS Disney games I have played to date, but I guess the music suits the game. The game’s sound effects are decent as such things as the magical spells and hidden coins have distinctly different tones. Yet on the downside, the sounds of footsteps seem out of sync. Nevertheless, most of the in-game sound effects are on par with any other DS game available. There is no character voice work which comes as no surprise given the limitations of the hardware in the DS. Instead you get a steady diet of text dialogue throughout the game. Adding some simple voice over dialogue would have been helpful in the game and would have kept the entertainment value up a bit as well. Unfortunately fans of the show will not be able to hear any Justin and Alex bantering throughout this game.
Wizards of Waverly Place for the DS is a adventure game chalk full of mini-games much like we have seen in other Disney games such as the High School Musical series, Corey in the House, and Cheetah Girls. The basic premise of the game extends beyond the TV show as players can experience five unique episodes while casting new magic spells. There are familiar locations from the show and also some new ones thrown into the mix. But before I get too ahead of myself, I should briefly explain the premise of the show which is the foundation for the game.
Wizards of Waverly Place centers on the Russo family, which includes Alex, her older brother Justin, and their younger brother Max; Alex's best friend Harper is also part of the storyline. The three Russo siblings are wizards and live with their Italian-American father Jerry, who himself is a former wizard, and their Mexican-American mother, Theresa. The children are not allowed to use magic without supervision. Alex often gets into trouble for using magic unsupervised. Justin always makes sure Alex does not get into any more trouble than she is already in. Along the way, all of the kids learn moral lessons relating to friends, family, and school. That is really Wizards of Waverly Place in a nutshell and this forms the basic premise of the game.
Much of the gameplay consists of quests where you need to go from point A to point B, chat with some characters, locate items and cast magical spells.
The first part of the game offers up a nice little tutorial to help you become acquainted with the games basic controls and how to perform spells using the stylus. It is a nice little tutorial but casting spells eventually becomes a trial and error thing anyhow. More often than not I would forget what kind of spell I would need to perform and I would simply just try out a variety of spells until I got the correct one. There are multiple spells in the game which include: levitate, freeze, and move. Players activate spells by using the stylus and trace shapes on the touch screen. It is very simple and easy for kids to pick-up. The screen can be finicky at times but overall it works quite well.
As you progress along in the game you are introduced to several mini-games and some can be quite enjoyable. For instance, the sub sandwich making game is pleasing and the ‘grab the subs’ with the magical wand game is also lots of fun too, albeit a very odd game. There is also a crazy pong-like game, and a 'Simon-Says' like memory game with enchanted lockers. All in all the game features some pleasant mini-games which give gamers a nice break from fetch quests which really dominate the gameplay.
The single player experience has five levels spanning different locations.
Familiar locales such as the Russo home, the Wizards school, and the sandwich shop will be easily recognizable for Waverly Place fans. The single player experience should only take you 3-5 hours to complete depending on how many times you replay the mini-games.
The game features collectible coins and Alex manages to snag some other collectible trinkets along the way. As you progress in the game you unlock certain items. For instance, my daughter really enjoyed playing with Alex's wardrobe. In the game you can customize Alex's wardrobe by unlocking accessories and outfits true to her style. This kept my daughter occupied for some time and gave the game some replay value.
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