IGN Preview of Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
Ariel and all her friends make their DS debut at the Buena Vista Games booth at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, thanks to Gorilla System Games.
Inspired by the hit movie, "The Little Mermaid," The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure puts you in control of Ariel as she tries to uncover and undersea mystery. The little bit of the game we got to play didn't quite go into what the mystery was, which only serves to make it more mysterious. The game is a 2D adventure, with 3D models of all the major characters from the movie. Both screens show the level, giving the player a view of the area above them, although Ariel doesn't cross over into it.
The game's action takes place on the DS touch screen, although the mermaid herself is controlled with the D-pad. As she swims along the ocean floor, you can collect various shells and barnacles by tapping on them with your stylus. Collecting these unlocks "tricks" for Flounder. We managed to unlock two of Flounder's moves, roll over, and pop-the-bubble-with-your-nose. The tricks don't seem to serve any purpose, other than a cute distraction from the bigger game.
The tasks Ariel must accomplish are focused on by various pictures. A small animation showing what motion you need to use with the stylus (tap, swipe across, etc) hovers above the tasks. Tips from Flounder and Triton appear on the top screen from time to time. In the level we played, Ariel had to free crabs from cages by swiping across the cage door with the stylus.
A variety of rhythm based minigames can be played by talking to Sebastian. We played the giant clam shell drums, which involved tapping the correct colored shell as it slid over into frame on the top screen. The minigames are multiplayer, allowing you to connect with your friends and start an underwater Barnacle Band.
Ariel has an unnatural obsession with the surface world, and collects every shiny object she comes upon in her journeys to help satiate her hunger for knick knacks (looks like fish girls aren't too different from real girls). Uncovering treasure is accomplished by rubbing the stylus over batches of dirt on the ocean floor. Once uncovered, you clear away all the coral and crabs by tapping them with your stylus. The final step is blowing into your DS microphone to clear away the final layer of dust. Unfortunately, due to the noise of E3, this task proved impossible. Assuming we were able to uncover the treasure, it would be added into Ariel's Grotto, which acts as a hub for the game. Each piece of treasure gets added to the shelves, which when we played were rather bare.
I'm not in Gorilla's six to nine year old girl target audience, so my expectations for games are a little higher than this provides. However, as a franchise game goes, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure makes good use of the touch screen and mic functions in what would otherwise be a completely dull game.
Look for The Little Mermaid to hit shelves in Fall 2006, coinciding with the re-release of the film on DVD.
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