As we work through the last of the 2009 game review pile, my kids gave a pair of Disney Interactive DS titles a whirl: A Christmas Carol and JONAS. Both are based on Disney properties, one the recently released Disney adaptation of a classic Christmas movie and the other a Disney Channel show. Neither offers what you would expect to be a compelling game concept, but they made it out in time for the holiday rush and there will always be those who appreciate this kind of stuff. In our house, the games garnered a collective “meh,” although A Christmas Carol was the better of the two and the only one I could take spending any time with, personally. These aren’t the kind of games that warrant a detailed review, but here’s a quick overview of what to expect from each.
Let’s start with the more positive note. A Christmas Carol really isn’t that bad a game, but it suffers from the limitations of its source material. While playing a Christmas-themed game right about now feels almost festive, I can’t imagine it having all that much appeal in July. Aside from that, it’s an adventure game that follows the plot of the movie (which Jason reviewed in November), and like he said of the movie, the game is much better than I expected. Moving objects around with the stylus was sometimes frustrating for the kids- the controls aren’t always laser sharp, and a sliding tile mini game was the source of some exasperation, but overall it was well received. The inclusion of an Advent Calendar was a neat idea, there is plenty of Christmas music and the original Dickens novel is available for reading on completion. The graphics, particularly the Victorian elements, were quite well done, although given the limitations of the DS it isn’t surprising that the developers had to go for a more cartoony look than the movie.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol from Disney Interactive
Rated: E for Everyone
Wired: Something to get young gamers in the holiday spirit.
Tired: Christmas theme limits post-holiday appeal, sometime balky controls, very little replay value.
On to JONAS. My daughter is in that key tween demographic, seems physically attached to her DS and follows all the Disney musical licenses (right down to her Hannah Montana iPod dock) and even she couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for this one. From what I could tell before everyone lost interest, the game involves either dressing up the Jonas Brothers, avoiding hazards that might harm the Jonas Brothers’ clothes, changing the Jonas Brothers’ outfits and, at the end of each mission, playing a concert performance, music rhythm game that’s something like a very watered down Rock Band. Of course, the rhythm game also means you have to listen to a Jonas Brothers tune, complete with DS compression to make it even better. Die-hard Jonas Brothers fans might like it, but it’s definitely not a game you would ever inflict on someone for casual play.
JONAS from Disney Interactive
Rated: E for Everyone
Wired: Jonas Brother fans can dress the cartoonish avatars of all three in various goofy outfits, music rhythm game has some replay value
Tired: Too. Much. Jonas.