The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has already proven to be hugely successful in the realms of literature, television, and film. Coinciding with the recent movie, C.S. Lewis' creation has moved into the world of handheld video games with the aptly named The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, an action adventure game for the Nintendo DS. The game is developed by Amaze Entertainment, a company that has a history of bringing blockbuster fantasy films to life on the small screen with such licenses as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. The relationship is evident in the design of Narnia on the DS, as the game shares the same brand of simple action and light puzzle-solving as its cousins. Unfortunately, tedium sets in quickly in Narnia, and you're left with a fairly average game that doesn't do much to complement the license.
Now you can carry the Pevensies in your pocket, which is cool, sort of.
Narnia on the DS plays like an introduction to hack-and-slash role-playing games. You play through the story as the four Pevensie children from the movie. The main objective in the game is to defeat the White Witch and save the troubled fantasy world known as Narnia. This involves crisscrossing the rather small world on foot, battling enemies such as wolves, rats, giants, polar bears, dwarves, minotaurs, and white tigers. As you fight, your characters earn experience and eventually level up. With each level a character earns a virtue point, which can be applied to one of four stats to increase health points, defense, strength, and willpower, which determines how often a character can use a special skill.
You control one of the children while the rest tag along and provide some basic support, depending on how you set the artificial intelligence for each character. You can have a character heal, attack, or defend, depending on their strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Each child has unique abilities, and you can switch among characters in your party with a press of one of the shoulder buttons. You can have a maximum of four characters in your party at a time, but you can gain the ability to summon familiar creatures who will help out in battle. The story rarely allows you access to all four of the children at the same time, so you don't have any say over who gets to come along on each quest.
As you go from dungeon to dungeon and battle to battle, you'll meet various friendly creatures, who will assign side-quests that usually involve menial tasks such as finding an item or clearing an area of a specific type of enemy. If you complete a side quest, the assigning animal will teach you a valuable skill. Some skills, such as passive stat boosters, can be learned by any character. Other skills are specific to each character. Peter can learn combat skills such as a shield bash, Lucy can learn magic and play panpipes to cast healing spells and summon familiars, and so on.
All of the characters in your party share the same health gauge, which sounds odd, but it's actually convenient in practice. If a character takes a hit when the health gauge is empty, he or she will get knocked out for a few seconds. When none of the characters are left standing, you have to start over at the last checkpoint, which is never very far away. After you learn how to exploit this system you can often just let your melee characters keep fighting, dying, and recovering while keeping one character out of danger, thus keeping the party alive. In addition to keeping your characters conscious, you have to keep them warm. Narnia is pretty much frozen solid, after all. There's an icon in the upper left of the screen that tells you if your characters are warm or cold. If they're warm, they'll earn more experience and perform better in battle. If they're cold, you can enter a shelter to warm them up. There's also a day and night cycle in Narnia, which affects your characters' warmth as well as what types of enemies you'll encounter.