How could something so magical be so boring?
Winx Club began its life as an animated series that first aired in Italy in 2004.The franchise proved to be popular enough that it caught the eye of (in)famous children’s television company 4Kids Entertainment. With the rising popularity of girl franchises like Bratz and Disney Princess, Winx Club had the potential of being popular and proved to be a relative hit in America. Konami’s Winx Club: Mission Enchantix has some solid ideas inspired by the series, but the final execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Winx Club: Mission Enchantix is a platforming game that follows the storyline of the TV series. Players control the six lead characters (Bloom the fire fairy, Stella the sun fairy, Flora the flower fairy, Musa the music fairy, Tecna the technology fairy, and Layla the water fairy) as they use powerful spells to unlock puzzles and defeat enemies.
Each fairy can also achieve “Enchantix” status, which gives them even more powers and cute little outfits to match. But these powers cost mana, a magical element found in the Winx world. Luckily the characters can collect mana shards to refill their mana meters. In some stages you can use up to three fairies and change them on the fly; best of all, all three characters can share mana shards in case one of them runs out.
Despite appearing to have some strong gameplay underneath its wings (no pun intended), Enchantix fails to re-capture the storyline of the main series ordeliver gameplay that uses Winx Club’s assets to the fullest. It tries to develop the storyline seen in the original TV show, but what we get are bits and pieces of loosely-tied narrative that neither enlightens fans new to the series nor captures the interest of existing fans. Sometimes we are told that a character must rescue a sibling, but we never see the other character or the scene properly acted out. There are some nifty videos taken from the show, but they barely explain what is going on. Worst of all, there isn’t even a proper ending.
Gameplay is dull, despite the fantastical subject matter. The unique powers of each character are barely used, and all powers are nearly identical save for the Enchantix spells. The characters primarily differ only cosmetically, and rarely are players required to cleverly use a character in order to progress. Enchantix as is as basic a platformer as they come; collect some stars, defeat some enemies, get to the end of the level, and watch some story.
Moving your character feels a tad weird with the D-pad. In order to turn you also have to press the shoulder buttons, which is odd and cumbersome at times. The rest of the game is controlled with the touch screen and face buttons, with neither presenting any control issues.
Surprisingly, Winx Club excels in terms of bonus content. The appropriately named A/V Club mode is where players can see additional images and videos, as well as hear the game’s musical tracks. These are unlocked by playing the single-player mode, which could be a chore for some players. In The Magic Closet, players can play dress-up and adorn the main characters in cute outfits earned in the main story mode. Players can even design their own outfits and trade them with other players via wireless play. The outfits you have chosen will not appear in the main game, but they are used in the bonus modes.
Finally, the Arcade includes six unique mini-games starring the Winx girls. Each mini-game is a take on classic designs such as Bejeweled and Elite Beat Agents. They aren’t as good as their inspirations, but they manage to alleviate some of the monotony experienced in the Story mode.
It’s very rare for a game’s bonus modes to be better than the main game itself, but that’s the case with Mission Enchantix. It relies on the single-player mode to unlock a great deal of its content, but the extras can’t save a game that with such flawed core gameplay.
Winx Club is a colorful franchise, and that quality is vividly expressed in Mission Enchantix. The 3D models are basic, but well made with a lot of colorful details. The menus literally sparkle with 2D artwork of the characters; there are even videos taken from the series bookending some stages. The worlds and enemies, however, are very bland and lack the detail found in the rest of the game.
In terms of sound effects and music Mission Enchantix strives to be stylish, and the soundtrack tries to deliver in this sense. The catchy Winx Club theme is present and accounted for, but the rest of the soundtrack features often-reused generic dance tunes that make more sense at a fashion show than on a battlefield.. The game’s sound effects are largely forgettable, with all the characters sharing the same screams and grunts.
Winx Club: Mission Enchantix is best described as a missed opportunity. Konami had a very strong franchise from which to derive good ideas, but they instead decided to stick too closely to the basics and release a game that very few fans of Winx Club or newcomers will find enjoyable.