Though the cartoon is no longer on the air here in the United States, the Winx Club is still active elsewhere around the world -- and that continued global presence, combined with the hope that young fans here will still fondly remember the show, seems to have been enough justification for Winx Club: Mission Enchantix. This latest video game adventure for the six young female fairy friends probably won't win back any lost recognition for the greater Winx franchise, though, as it's a mostly average effort that's arriving a little too late to matter.
Mission Enchantix closely follows the formula first seen two years ago in the first DS Winx game, Quest for the Codex
-- because like that game before, this design is split halfway between side-scrolling shooting action and a half-dozen smaller mini-games. The addition of an new and fairly robust "Magic Closet" mode helps to extend the experience though, making it feel more fully featured than that initial '06 effort.
First up, the side-scrolling. Mission Enchantix's main story mode draws on the plot and characters first seen in the TV show's third season, and features the six fairy girls fighting the sinister mage Baltor while learning about how to unlock their new, more powerful "Enchantix" transformations. The mode's levels are all shooter-based, as you take command of one of the girls and fly her to the right side of the screen, looking for the exit to the stage and blasting any enemies in your way with magic spells.
It feels very similar to the shooting sequences from Quest for the Codex, which is unfortunate since that game's shooting levels felt rushed and unpolished. There's a bit of added effort this time around, as the girls can pivot around to fire at enemies that get behind them and the camera does a better job at zooming in and out to keep all of your foes on the screen at the same time, but it's still just mediocre flying action in the end.
The mini-games, as the next portion of the package, are done better. There are six, each one hosted by a different Winx girl, and most of them are fun -- a few can even be addictive. Musa and Layla's music-based games are fair takes on the themes of Guitar Hero
and Dance Dance Revolution
. Flora's gardening game is a pretty standard match-three puzzler, and Stella's slide puzzle is limited but fairly unique. The best of the bunch, though, are Bloom's game "Guardian" and Tecna's game, "Maze Escape."
Guardian is an addictive little touch-screen take on arcade classics like Asteroids
-- you see the action from a birds-eye view, and move Bloom around with the D-Pad while aiming her magic shots with the stylus. The independent movement of Bloom herself and the direction of her attacks keeps things frantic, and the power-ups she can earn along the way are satisfyingly destructive too.
Maze Escape is a line-drawing design where you're tasked to trace a path from a starting point, through a labyrinth, to an end goal -- all without picking up the stylus or crossing back overtop of your own existing line. It can be fun, and also flexible since you've got the freedom to decide whether you're going to try to find the fastest path possible or take on the added challenge of collecting all the bonus items along the way.
Players might ultimately find that they spend more time with the six mini-games than in the main story mode, which is a bit of a compliment for the mini-games but more a comment on the shooting portion's rough-around-the-edges feeling. But there's one last piece of the package thrown in, and that's the Magic Closet.
This fashion-customization mode is a fresh addition to the Winx girls' repertoire on DS, and has you flipping your system into the sideways "book style" configuration to edit each girl's wardrobe and hair. The game offers a fair variety of unlockable shirts, pants, dresses, shoes and hairstyles for each of the Winx (you unlock more by doing well in the mini-games, for example). But the more interesting aspect is the user-designed customization options.
Like creating your own patterns for shirts and wallpaper in Animal Crossing
, Mission Enchantix offers you a blank canvas to paint on -- and then applies your design to the Winx girls' shoes, or pants, or whatever. The changes you make to their looks won't carry over into the other parts of the game, unfortunately, but as a self-contained mode the Magic Closet is the most polished piece of this whole package.
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