The Tale of Despereaux Review
The Tale of Despereaux box art
System: DS, PS2, Wii, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Fizz Factor 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atari / Brash Entertainment 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 2, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Aside from the rats, other enemies include frogs, scorpions, bats, birds, bees, and a host of insects. There is some “mild cartoon violence” but there’s not a lot of blatant killing.

The Tale of Despereaux screenshot

You will eventually acquire a needle that can be used as a sword, among other things, but there are no guns or explosions with which to eliminate the enemy. Mousetraps can be used to rid yourself of unwanted vermin, but you have to be careful not to take the bait yourself. Luring enemies to the trap will deactivate it, but if you don’t have any takers, you’ll have to look for items you can use to throw at I,t so that it won’t snap your little head off when you pass by. These puzzle elements are not only challenging, but they fit in nicely within the context of the storyline and the gameplay.

As in any traditional side-scroller, there are a variety of goodies to collect that will do everything from increasing your points to giving you a special ability. Hidden within the levels are musical notes that you can collect. Each series of notes will unlock a new instrument to play along with the soundtrack. It’s a cool idea that sounds as good as it…er…sounds. The music is extremely well done and there’s not much you can do to improve on it except to add more color to it.

Speaking of color, Despereaux is definitely a cartoon-come-to-life. Everything from the animation to the static storybook panels exhibits a quality generally lacking in movie-inspired games. The controls work great; they are very responsive and precise. Despereaux makes plenty of interesting noises when exerting himself, or taking a hit. I could definitely have stood to see more cutscenes and voiceacting. That would have helped to flesh out the story better.


I have not read the book, nor will I ever read it or see the movie for that matter. I found the storyline to be lacking cohesion and continuity, but you don’t need to know what’s going on to try to save the princess. The game is divided into numerous chapters, each with their own levels. It will take most gamers little longer than a day to play through the entire game. Aside from going back and collecting more notes, there’s essentially no replay value here at all. While there’s no doubt that Despereaux will make a great present or stocking stuffer, if you’re considering it for yourself, you would be advised to rent it.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Great faux-3D effects makes this 2D side-scroller look spacious.
Simple control scheme. Lots of different moves accessed contextually.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Great music but more voiceover work would be welcome.

Play Value
Plenty of gameplay diversity and challenge. Too short with no replay value.

Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Play as the courageous little mouse Despereaux on his heroic quest to save the Princess.
  • Follows the whimsical story from the film and also includes all-new adventures not seen in the film.
  • Combo system adds complexity and strategy to combat.
  • Upgradable skills and weapons.
  • 15 unique action-packed levels filled with 27 different enemies.
  • Multiple difficulty settings.
  • 8-10 hours of gameplay.

  • Screenshots / Images
    The Tale of Despereaux screenshot - click to enlarge The Tale of Despereaux screenshot - click to enlarge The Tale of Despereaux screenshot - click to enlarge The Tale of Despereaux screenshot - click to enlarge

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