Let the Narnians Save Themselves
Another month, another movie tie-in. Are we done yet? Certainly not! With the summer around the corner, family movies are popping out like mice in a cheese factory. Just a few days ago, I went to the theater to watch the follow-up to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I didn’t think Prince Caspian was quite as exciting as the first movie, but it’s a decent one to watch with the younger ones, as long as they aren’t too scared of weird creatures and such.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian video game is inspired by the movie, though it puts more emphasis on the battles than the actual movie does; it also includes some deleted scenes that didn’t make it to the final cut in the film. However, I didn’t find this game as entertaining as other movie tie-ins, so I recommend people who enjoy this kind of family game to proceed with caution.
There are a few reasons why someone would choose to play this game. First of all, it follows the same story as the movie, so it extends its enjoyment a little further. In the movie, we saw how the kids (once kings and queens of Narnia) are back in London and living a somewhat normal life. While waiting for the train at the Underground station, the forces of magic pull them back to Narnia. It’s been a hundred years since they left, and Narnia has since been invaded by the Telemarines. These heartless humans devastated the lands and killed all the Narnians who couldn’t escape. But, who brought the Pevensie siblings back to Narnia? It was none other than prince Caspian, who summoned them with Susan’s horn. His life is in danger, and he summons the kids in a desperate act to defeat his evil uncle and return the land to its original people. Little did he know the kings and queens of Narnia he’d heard about were younger than him!
That’s basically the story, but in the game everything starts with the battles between the Narnians and the Telemarines, just before Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy return. Players will be able to choose one of four Narnian characters to start. There’s a dwarf, a faun, a minotaur, and a centaur. Each of the characters has its own abilities, which plays an important role when it comes to solving puzzles. The second reason why someone would play this game is the multiplayer co-op support. Up to four players can participate at the same time and take on the role of one of the four playable characters. As you advance through the game, you’ll be able to control different characters in the story, including, of course, the Pevensie kids. It’s a good way to keep the gameplay fresh, though overall it’s not very interesting or fun to play.
The controls are easy enough for anyone to pick up. The combat moves don’t require much more than mere button-mashing, and the puzzles are usually solved by finding something somewhere and putting it somewhere else, sometimes using character-specific abilities like the dwarf’s grappling hook, the minotaur’s strength, etc. The gameplay is rather simple and I have no complaints in this regard; if anything, it was a little too easy for those looking to be challenged. The camera angles were a bit fiddly sometimes, but they never became truly annoying.
The main problem I found with the game was its simplicity. Simplicity can be understood as kids-friendly, which is good for family-based games; however, there’s more to it in this case. The gameplay is utterly monotonous. There’s a lot of button-mashing during the very repetitive battles, and the puzzles are not very clever. To top it off, the graphics leave a lot to be desired. The environments and characters lack detail, and the textures look a bit primitive. In addition, I came across a few glitches that were just cheesy as can be. One of them is when the dwarf and the satyr retrieve Susan’s horn from a chest…I was playing with the satyr and had him open the chest. Once they showed how he opens it, a cutscene backtracks to before the chest was open and the dwarf opens it instead. Whaaaat!!? That will just give you an idea about the overall quality of the game.
It’s a given that kids won’t necessarily notice these little mistakes, but it just makes the rest of us lose respect and interest in the game. I kept playing and playing through several levels, and everything was so repetitive and bland it didn’t really get me hooked. I’ve been able to enjoy other movie-based titles like The Spiderwick Chronicles, but this one just didn’t get me.
The cutscenes in the game are washed-out clips from the movie, and the editing was a little rough as well. If you haven’t seen the movie, the cutscenes won’t quite help you follow the story. A few key moments that could have made it shine didn’t make it into the game. The voice over work is fine overall, but a bit scarce. On numerous occasions the characters just moan and groan like beasts…including the human ones! I didn’t really understand why it had to be that way, considering the Telemarines are far from being Neanderthals!
The soundtrack is a bit more interesting, especially during certain scenes, but it mostly goes unnoticed. It seems like the whole game is surrounded by an uncomfortable level of mediocrity, and it never delivers a real movie-like experience. We expect much more out of today’s video games, and we can say this one got stuck in the last generation of gaming. If it had come out three years ago, it would still be bad though!
Maybe kids will get some enjoyment out of it, but anyone over 12-14 years old should probably just skip it. We all know movie tie-ins are generally rushed and second-rate, but from my experience, this one takes the cake!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
Narnia looks a little rough in this one. There isn’t much detail to be found, and the character models are kind of cheesy. Cutscenes don’t help to understand what’s going on. 3.8 Control
This game is easy to play. The user-friendly controls were the better part of it. However, expect lots of repetition and button-mashing. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is passable, but nothing memorable. Voice over work is often replaced by moans and groans. Basic sound effects do the job. 3.0 Play Value
Perhaps kids will find some value in taking the Prince Caspian story at home. Co-op gameplay is a plus for friends and families that enjoy playing together. 2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.