Get ready to brave the latest mediocre movie adaptation.
Brave, Pixar's latest film has just hit theaters. Like most films marketed to kids, Brave has a video game adaptation for multiple platforms. However, in most cases these turn out to be little more than hastily created marketing tools. And sadly, Brave's DS outing is no different.
Brave's story is introduced with a brief animated cut scene. However, the narrative it introduces is quite a departure from that depicted in the film. Instead of embarking on a journey with her mother, who has transformed into a bear, Merida (the film's protagonist) begins the game chasing after her. In fact, Merida's mother is only mentioned in dialog and cut scenes. This is unfortunate, as I'm sure the inclusion of a bear ally could have made for some interesting game mechanics.
With the story discrepancies aside, Brave is a relatively simple action-adventure game featuring a few RPG elements and some rudimentary platforming. The game's basic mechanics actually work relatively well. Merida wields both a bow and a sword, each of which has its own combos and special attack. There are also four elements (air, earth, ice, and fire) that imbue the weapons at any given time, used to activate switches and to take out vulnerable enemies.
While the game's mechanics are functional, its difficulty seems unbalanced. For the most part, you can kill everything in the game by spamming the bow, as it interrupts enemy movement and attacks. It doesn't help that you see all the game's enemy types in the first few levels. As a result, the game’s upgradable attacks and equipment feel unnecessary, as you can defeat most enemies by simply standing in place and pressing the A button. Even worse are the game's lackluster bosses, which consist of the same encounter recycled four times. The only difference with each is the enemy’s element and the amount of switches you must activate to begin attacking it.
The game's presentation fairs slightly better. The graphics are rendered in 3D, and while they're not the most attractive on the handheld, they do a fine job of presenting the style present in the film. However, the developers made some odd decisions with game's voice acting. While there are a few lines from Kelly Macdonald (Merida's voice actor), they're few and far between. Yet, oddly enough, most of the game's tutorials are fully voiced and much louder than any other sound in the game.
As a game, Brave is as mediocre and hastily made as we've come to expect from adaptions of popular films. And honestly, it's a pity, as the game's basic mechanics seem to work well enough.