Uncomfortable touch screen controls and boring missions keep this title grounded.
The film version of "The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole", based on the book series of the same name by Kathryn Lasky, was praised for its lush visuals and stunning animation, but many felt the narrative was derivative of other, superior fantasy stories. Several video game adaptations were released in hopes of promoting the film, including one for Wii. Is the DS game as successful as the Wii adaptation? The answer is no.
Players take control of a young owl named Soren as they relive key scenes of both the books and the motion picture. With the main character being an owl, flight plays a key role in the gameplay of Legend of the Guardians. You control Soren on the touch screen using the stylus, guiding Soren through the stage by moving across the screen. This proves to be uncomfortable as there are times where your view is blocked by your hand. There are no other control options, such as use of the D-pad, which would have been more comfortable, so you have to adapt to this method of play. While flying, there is an automatic lock-on system that is activated whenever you are near an item, character, or enemy. This slightly helps to alleviate the problems with the controls, but its not enough to redeem them.
The other problem within the title's gameplay lies in the missions. Simply put, they are very boring and tedious. Most of them consist of having the player find other characters, or flying around the stage doing some battles or collecting special items. These missions are very repetitive, forcing you to perform the same task up to five times until the stage is completed. This quickly turns the game into a chore and drains the fun out of the title.
Legends of the Guardians tries to deepen its gameplay by adding collectable elements such as alternate playable characters and armor. Characters can be found in missions and can then be selected before taking on a story mission. Armor helps to defend your character, something that becomes crucial during some of the harder missions. But ultimately, these are very basic representations of ideas seen in other games, and do little to enhance enjoyment.
While the story is told through beautifully presented moving illustrations, it unfortunately fails to engage the players in its narrative due to the lack of voice acting or actual scenes from the movie, and the presence of very long dialog scenes that fail to capture the emotional substance of the film. The rest of the visual package is decent, with detailed character models flying around some rather generic locales. The music tries to capture the epic score of the film, but the end result is forgettable at best.
Legends of the Guardians for the DS is best described a title that tries to soar high but fails to get off the ground thanks to its tedious missions, a cumbersome control scheme, and a tepid re-telling of the story. This is one title that should be skipped regardless if you are a fan of the franchise or not.