The Spiderwick Chronicles Review for the Nintendo Wii

There seems to be a surge of children’s books being adapted to film. The Harry Potter franchise really sparked the craze, with films such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass following it. And along with most movies targeted towards children comes every bit of merchandise under the sun bearing its name. With manufacturers often relying on the brand name to sell their merchandise, the quality of the product is sometimes secondary. This is something we see oh-so-often in licensed video games.

The Spiderwick Chronicles screenshot

The good news in the case of The Spiderwick Chronicles title is that developer Stormfront Studios has done a good job of releasing a quality video game targeted at children. It has plenty of educational value and is actually pretty challenging – even to a grownup video game journalist-type such as myself.

The game begins with you playing as the young lad Jared in your new home, the former mansion of Arthur Spiderwick. Long ago, Spiderwick discovered a hidden world that exists all around us and recorded his findings in a secret book, which Jared soon discovers. The game features actual cutscenes from the film that explain the story for those who have yet to see it.

Spiderwick’s mansion is dark-lit and pretty spooky, with music taken straight from the film to contribute to the atmosphere. As you walk around the antique home, you can interact with dozens of objects marked with an icon. However, you can do nothing more than “look” at the objects at first, as Jared says short comments about their significance. Presumably, you will need to use these items later in the game. With the amount of icons to look at, a lot of time at the start of the game is spent wandering around and trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do. The only object you can use from the get-go is a broken broomstick, which you can swing around and use as a weapon.

The Spiderwick Chronicles screenshot

At first, the buttons seem extremely basic. Left Analog controls your character, Right Analog controls the camera, X is your attack button, Square allows you to do a little leaping slide, and hitting Circle interacts with objects. When playing as Jared, Triangle uses the magic of the wood nymphs you have to capture later in the game. While you will need to use combat to fight off trolls and goblins who roam the wooded area outside of the house, complexity of the controls was obviously not Stormfront’s focus. What they have done is made a children’s game that is as entertaining and time-consuming as it is educational. With many puzzles, mazes, and problem solving elements to The Spiderwick Chronicles, children will need time and brain power to bear this game – especially as they progress and challenges become more difficult.

The Spiderwick Chronicles screenshot

You take on three roles while playing The Spiderwick Chronicles. For the most part, you play as Jared. However, you also play as his brother Simon who is good at science and gadgets, as well as the small mouse-like creature Thimbletack, who Jared discovers is living in-between the mansion walls early in the game. Playing as Thimbletack, you will have to complete tasks by traveling through maze-like environments, which are actually pretty confusing at times. You will have to hurdle and climb your way through nooks and crannies in the walls and flooring. Either I am dumb or kids are getting smarter, but I actually had a tough time with some parts. A lot of the game relies on your memory to solve puzzles and find your way back and forth through mazes. I can see this game being pretty educational for children, as far as learning about problem solving while using hand-eye coordination, and it’s pretty fun at the same time.

The Spiderwick Chronicles screenshot

As you continue to play, your lists of tasks and inventory grows. What’s cool is you scroll through the menu like a reading book, flipping back and forth through the pages. This allows you to view game options, game completion, current quests and tasks, inventory, and a moves list. You later gain access to a butterfly net to collect wood sprites and use their magic, as well as a slingshot which you will need to shoot down objects and nail attackers from a distance.

With a huge map to roam and numerous tasks to achieve, The Spiderwick Chronicles is definitely a game that takes patience. The slow pace may annoy more action-oriented gamers, but this game is certainly intended for children. I think it may, however, be better suited for a handheld than a console. Because it is so time-consuming, it may be ideal for children in the back seat during a long road trip.

For fans of the film – which I have yet to see – The Spiderwick Chronicles game is actually a quality adaptation intended for children, but challenging enough to be enjoyed by adults. But even though this is a decent video game on its own, how well the film does at the box office will probably determine how well this game sells.

The game seems to be very dark-lit, making it hard to navigate around, though graphics are good quality. 3.5 Control
Simplistic controls can become redundant, though suitable for young children this game is made for. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voiceover work as well as cutscenes and musical score taken straight from the film. 3.8

Play Value
If children don’t become bored easily, this game could offer endless hours of exploration and problem-solving. However, the slow pace may become annoying for those in need of more action.

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

Game Features:

  • Unlock and explore the hidden world of the seen and unseen from the Spiderwick Chronicles Movie.
  • Battle strange and enchanted creatures in this spellbound world of eerie adventures as you fight to stop a rising evil.
  • Capture fantastical creatures and solve puzzles as you explore the Spiderwick estate.

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