|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Disney Interactive Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studio||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 13, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (4-player versus)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
If youre like me, you didnt actually see The Sorcerers Apprentice. Normally I wouldnt admit to such a thing up front, but one look at the box office numbers and youd know I was lying if I tried to claim otherwise. Lets just say it was a disappointment. Like most of you, I saw Inception instead. But instead of debating the ending of that movie, were here to discuss whether or not the Nintendo DS version of Disneys The Sorcerers Apprentice is worth your time, which may be a tough sell to an audience largely apathetic to the movie on which the game is based.
If I know one thing, it is that the only redeeming hope for a critically panned movie and its handheld counterpart are heavy doses of one Nicolas Cage. When your films star has you shaking your head with bemusement simply due to his existence, you know hes something special. The same should hold true for the game. Step number one would seem to be an extra helping of Nicolas Cage in handheld format. Unfortunately, the developers at Disney didnt see fit to draw Balthazar Blake, Cages character, to resemble the actor in more than the slightest of ways. Strike one.
Snarkiness aside, the game does show promise from the outset. The graphics are colorful and crisp, with a variety of magical spells at your disposal. Each spell is tied to a different color, and when you are attacked by enemies of the same color as your selected spell, you are effectively immune from harm. Mana is used in your attacks for most spells and is charged by filling up at placed mana shrines (or whatever they are supposed to be) throughout the level. As you progress through a level, Balthazar dispenses tips and advice while occasionally progressing the story via pop-up text.
During the first hour or two of playing the game, I was quite shocked that I was enjoying myself and impressed by the fun simplicity of the gameplay that managed to also have some tactical depth to it. Games based upon movies are notoriously bad, and for a stinker like The Sorcerers Apprentice, I had very little hope it would be anything better than terrible. It was quite fun to select my spells, run around in a clean top-down view, and beat up floating trash bags, sewer pipes, and oil slicks with my magic. That is, until the repetitiveness of it all hit me like a swarm of bees to the eyes. The enemies got repetitive fast. Those trash bags floating around quickly turned into a nuisance. Basically, the grunts of the game are just elusive enough that they dont die as quickly as they should to give a sense of progression. It seemed like I was getting stuck in group battle after group battle, with each and every one looking like the last.
Even though the shorter battles are Gone In 60 Seconds, it feels much longer due to the sheer number of them and how they run together. Between the magical firefights are the occasional sublevels in the magical realm where you can level up your spell power. But yet again, to do so involves more of the same cookie cutter magical melees as before. Allow me to demonstrate how this works:
Turquoise attack. Button mash. Haphazardly dodge. Destroy Enemy. Purple attack with purple attack immunity. No dodging. Destroy Enemies. Fill up Mana with the A button. Switch to Yellow Attack. Yawn. Kill more things. Wonder when this wave will end so I can move to the next screen and get stuck in another battle just like this only so I can finish it to move the screen.