Reviewed: January 8, 2011
Released: November 23, 2010
Let me start off this review by saying that Thanksgiving 2010ís Disney Tangled is a pretty fun movie (if you like animated films, and Disney bubbliness doesnít annoy you) and much better than the other non-Pixar animated efforts that Disney has put out recently. I very recently watched Tangled over the holidays and enjoyed it, myself; I didnít think itíd be fair to review this game without seeing it first. In any case, I wonít be reviewing the movie alongside the video game, but considering that the game is a film tie-in, itís inevitable that Iíll discuss the movie and, possibly, a few mild spoilers.|
Disney Tangled is an adventure platform game designed for kids ages 6-11 and allows them to relive Rapunzel and Flynnís adventure from the movie. Although film-inspired games typically have a bad rap, this game has the animated movieís charm and would probably appeal to its target audience. Even as an adult with different gaming tastes, I found it decently playable, if simple, and itís no Splinter Cell, but the co-op mode is kind of fun. For those of you who have played the LEGO games, Tangled is similar in many ways.
In single-player mode, the player controls both the naively sweet Rapunzel and the amusingly materialistic Flynn Rider, switching between them as necessary for different tasks, through levels very loosely based on major scenes from the movie. In between scenes, the game retells the story from the film in simplistic but attractive storybook-style illustrations that are narrated from the perspectives of the two main characters, authentically voiced by the original actors, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. The platformer-style levels are also interspersed with replayable mini-games (like a goat race or using the Wii remote to draw someone a picture) that provide some variety.
As I mentioned, Rapunzel and Flynn have different strengths and abilities. Rapunzel can, with a wiggle of the Wii controller, twirl her magic hair to heal and grow the plants around her. The plants release sun drops that are collected for points at the end of each level. She also uses her hair like a grappling hook to swing across chasms and pull items toward her. Her frying pan can also come in handy for temporarily dazing enemies that come their way, though it seems (appropriately enough, based on the movie) that she can only hit people from behind.
Even though Rapunzel is capable of helping, players will have to use Flynn to permanently defeat enemies and clear away breakable obstacles with his sword, again by waggling the controller. Instead of sun drops, Flynn greedily collects coins, many of which are found in hidden chests that can be detected using his ďFlynntuitionĒ Ė kind of a radar for secret treasure.
Many areas of the game require the two characters to work together to progress. For instance, Rapunzel might be able to swing across a gap that Flynn canít jump, but she needs his help to clear out enemies or bushes. In these cases, Rapunzelís hair comes in handy again, as she can let it down to help Flynn climb up, or she can toss her hair up to have Flynn pull her up.
These tasks are much more fun if you play the co-op mode, which (and I think this is a great idea) allows families to play together. Single-player mode can be instantly changed to a co-op mode by just turning on another Wii controller and pressing A; conveniently, thereís no need to restart a level to add players. While third and fourth players can also join in to invisibly and mysterious aid in breaking objects and stun enemies, they donít control additional characters on the screen, which is a bummer, since Pascal or Maximus would have been great additions if the game had been designed to accommodate them.
In co-op mode, the screen splits when Rapunzel and Flynn wander farther apart from each other and can be a little disorienting. Itís no worse than split-screen play in any other game, but I would have preferred the camera to zoom out instead, since each area is modestly sized, anyway. Thereís also a ďHold My HandĒ feature that allows one character to take the other characterís hand so that only one person needs to do the walkingóthis was designed with younger or newer players in mind so that parents or siblings can more easily help them navigate the game world.
The controls, in general, are simple and easy to learn, though it might not always be immediately obvious what the game wants the player to do. Difficulty-wise, a seasoned gamer will obviously find Tangled to be much too easy, and newer gamers and kids with a bit of game experienceóespecially platforming experienceówill probably do just fine. For a non-gamer (child or adult), however, the somewhat meandering level design could potentially be a bit confusing, especially since there is no level map function.
Additionally, the game provides enough of a tutorial to get players started at the beginning, but later on, there is no instruction at all, except at the beginning of occasional mini-games. Even I hit a few hiccups because continuing onward at times required using abilities that the game never introduced before. Something like that isnít off-putting for someone who often plays games that donít provide instructions for every action, but I can see how it could be frustrating for a non-gaming parent or very young child within the gameís actual target audience.
Tangled gets props for its audio and visual presentation, though. The graphics may not be the absolute best Iíve seen on the Wii, but theyíre colorful, lush, and beautiful. The characters are all instantly recognizable and move smoothly. Rapunzelís crazy long hair, especially, is surprisingly well animated and generally manages not to do anything wonkier than going through the occasional wall or object. I honestly donít remember if the gameís background music is actually from the movie, but itís pleasant enough. The voiceovers, as Iíve mentioned, are done by the original movie talent and are true to the characters.
Retailing for roughly $40, Tangled is a fairly short game that took me only a handful of hours, if even that, to finish, including collecting everything there is to collect in the game. From the perspective of the typical gamer, thatís not a great value, but Tangled isnít designed for the typical gamer. Children who love the movie may very well enjoy the game for many more hours, and gamer parents should have no problem teaching their kids how to play and helping them through tougher spots. If youíre a non-gamer parent planning to buy this game for a very young child with no gaming experience, however, Iím guessing that you may encounter some frustration. In short, Tangled is probably best suited for younger players independent enough not to require handholding through every aspect of a game, as well as parents who might game at least a little and enjoy playing video games with their children.
Overall, Tangled on the Wii is one of the better movie-based games Iíve tried, and except for a few minor design issues, itís really a very playable spin-off of the film. I thought it was an enjoyable supplement to the movie, especially given that the story is retold from a different perspective and isnít simply a carbon copy of the film with some mini-games and interactive portions thrown in. Watching the movie isnít a prerequisite to playing the game, but if you havenít watched Tangled yet, Iíd definitely recommend watching the movie first before playing the game.