|System: Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Art||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
in the Other World
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Unless you have sworn off television, you have probably seen an ad or two for the new movie, Coraline. This movie is based on a book of the same name by popular Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Neil Gaiman. The movie is structured like a modern-day fairytale and carries the familiar "be careful what you wish for" motif. The game of the same name follows the movie and does a good job of retelling the movie's storyline. But as a game, Coraline for the DS falls flat.
The biggest issue with this game is how it is structured. As you would expect, you play as Coraline and go through different events from the movie. You start off just wandering around your house, and after talking to various people, you will be able to move on to the next plot point. You will then play a little mini-game or two, and then you will have to go back to talking to various characters in order to advance the story.
There are two big problems with this format. First of all, in a game intended for kids, having a lot of text is not a good idea, especially considering the young mind generally has a brief attention span. And, when almost 50% of the gameplay involves characters telling you to go talk to other characters, the whole experience gets old fast. The second problem here is that much of the actual story is lost. As someone who has read the original novella, the game puts together the story in a very haphazard way, which might be difficult for those who have not seen the movie or read the book to understand.
But, when the game shifts away from the incessant talking, there is some actual gameplay to be had with this title. Most times, this will involve playing some sort of mini-game. Early on, you will have to do a bug squashing mini-game, which is actually quite satisfying. However, some of the other, more collection-focused mini-games (like finding a key, special boxes, etc.) become very repetitive over time.
Coraline also suffers from being a very short title, clocking in at about five hours. Granted, you might give or take a few minutes depending on the player, but since the game sticks very rigidly to the format outlined above, there is no real way to extend the gameplay time. Although, this is probably a good thing considering the poor quality of the gameplay overall.
In addition to the regular gameplay, there is also a collection room where you can replay unlocked mini-games and view screenshots from the movie. This area is actually one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game, as it allows you to play some of the more entertaining mini-games without having to go through miles of text to get there.