By Dan Zuccarelli . February 20, 2008 . 8:57am
Not normally one to play movie-to-game adaptations, this one was something out of the ordinary for me. But whatever, I'm always in the mood for something different.
My original plan for playing The Spiderwick Chronicles was to rope my girlfriend into playing the game with me. See she's a teacher and a big fan of adolescent literature (Golden Compass, Harry Potter, etc). What better way to get her into a game for a bit, and she could help me out with the storyline and explain how well the game captured the feel of the story. I figured I was all set and ready to go, with the back of the box advertising 2 player co-op. But not so fast.
I charged my second controller and we settled in to get some quality game time together. I power up the game, choose the multiplayer option and I'm confronted with a screen that tells me to "Play though single player campaign to unlock multiplayer!" Hmm, the exclamation point seems to denote excitement… but why should I be excited? Seems more like a kick in the balls to me. Consulting the manual I come to find out that 2 player co-op is only available for some mini-games that you unlock during the single-player game. There's no proper 2 player campaign. Seems a bit mis-leading to me that the box advertises 2 player co-op.
Well that's a huge downer.
We recover and decide we'd take turns playing the game together, but this never really works out for us. We both tried our hands at it, and even though I found the game to be beyond easy… she was struggling just because she doesn't routinely play games. It is obscenely easy, though it's built for kids so that's no surprise. So I played and she watched, but it wasn't as boring as it sounds.
There were clips from the movie interspersed though what we saw, and the action was pretty generic. Being geared towards kids this was to be expected, but the handholding was pretty extreme if you ask me. Consulting your quest list pretty much told you precisely what you needed to do to move on, so there was never really a point where you could get stuck. It was a few hours later I started to wonder why I wasn't beyond sick of the game by now. I mean seriously, this was a kids game…. why was I still playing it?
It's essentially a button masher, and it's pretty clear what items have to be used at certain times in-game. There's a little mini-game thing whenever you catch a fairy of having to paint a picture of it before it flies away, and it's beyond annoying. Seems like it's completely hit or miss, and was so frustrating I just stopped doing it altogether. So the game isn't exactly deep or expertly put together, it is a movie cash-in after all.
Even the world is small. But again, it's a kids game, so I focused on if it was doing what it set out to do, entertain young ones. Maybe it came along at the right time, where I wasn't looking for anything to difficult. Something to just relax and veg out with. But I think it was the story that had me, it kinda/sorta made me want to pick up the book. I've really enjoyed the Harry Potter stories, and I'm all up for a little fantasy story now and again.
So maybe the game did what it was intended to do, get people interested in the movie and the book.