For full disclosure, the only experience I've had with video games and princesses is rescuing them from "another castle." However, as a father, I've seen every Disney princess movie in existence, and before playing this game I had a Disney princess expert easily accessible.
My 7-year-old daughter and I jumped into "Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure" and found was a well-crafted experience, full of our favorite memorable Disney characters and places with an undeniable charm that fits the classic Disney princess profile.
Players come in as a Fairy Godmother-in-training who, like a certain famous Mouse with his master's sorcerer's hat, flubs a spell and transfigures some nearby magical creatures into misbehaving imps. This being a Fairy Godmother headquarters of sorts, there are magical portals leading to the lives of myriad Disney princesses. The imps head straight for the portals.
Right from the title screen, the game looks great. It's bathed in vibrant colors and Fairy Godmother Central is drawn up in a cartoony style Aurora or Snow White would feel at home in. It wasn't until we entered Rapunzel's world, however, that the artwork shone. Every set piece was a recreation of the areas of the movie "Tangled." We climbed up Rapunzel's tower, lit floating lanterns near the castle and searched the nearby forest for wanted posters of Flynn Rider. The art design didn't falter while visiting Ariel, Belle and Cinderella's portals, either.
The music fit snugly into the Disney princess framework.
The game play itself is a bit sticky and bland at times, but passable. If your young daughter is unlikely to say something like, "Father, Mother, I believe the parabolic arc was improperly calculated in the jumping subroutine," then she probably won't notice. There's a grandmotherly voice guiding the player to the next objective, which is comforting, except, with subtitles on (as they are by default), this causes a text box to appear across the bottom fifth of the screen, obstructing view every few seconds. This is typically ignorable, but during some mini-games, the resulting speech bubble will cover critical parts of the screen. And once, she told me how to dance while in the middle of redecorating my princess bedroom, as though passive-aggressively telling me furniture rearranging time was over.
Shockingly, though, brief moments of the game were more frightening than would be expected in a game geared toward young girls. During a hide-and-run mini-game with a gargantuan, more hideous than normal Ursula, my daughter had to pass the controller over because of the intensity.
The complete story will give most little princesses around six to eight hours of playtime. Better yet, parents and siblings can join those playtime hours as a second player. After the main story line, there still remains an engrossing magic garden to attend to, and plenty of dresses, hairstyles and jewelry to unlock by replaying levels and collecting in-game gems.
"Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure" has its flaws but excels in all the right places, and even the 3- and 6-year-old boys in my house wanted to join in. "My Fairytale Adventure" is available now for PC, Mac, Wii and 3DS.
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