18 Sep 2013

Disney Princess GBA

Platform: GBA
Publisher: Disney Interactive/ THQ
Year: 2003

The first game in the Disney Princess handheld series, this features the 6 classic Princesses: Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel (Little Mermaid), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Cinderella, Jasmine (Aladdin) and Snow White. I personally like this game especially as compared to the others. It reminds me of Mario is Missing, with the side scrolling action, but the Princesses whilst pixelated DO resemble their cartoon selves quite accurately, and beautifully drawn backgrounds and layout (story tale book). I'm 29 (as of 2013), and I still enjoy replaying this game from 10 years ago, and wish it was released on the 3DS virtual console (especially as classic Disney platform games: Duck Tales and Mickey Mouse: Castle of Illusion are being re-released in HD on the next gen consoles).

By collecting 100 coins per level and a total 8 "treasure stamps" per Princess, each Princess turns from her everyday self to her glittering self, including a locket with a picture of her Prince inside. She also gains a magical tiara and a special gem. I am one of those people who wants to collect everything in the game (100%)

A password feature is the only save feature of the game, and the 3 difficulty levels just grant more hearts (3,5, or 7) or more time in the timed levels, and the player also has infinite lives with a replay of the level if "failed". This is clearly marketed at girls with the pink packaging, and the Disney Princess related music (not bad for a GBA game- and again definitely a lot better than later games). The game might benefit from voice overs for text, which could be hard for younger gamers to understand, but a minor point as the game is not too text heavy.

With the exception of Cinderella, who has 2 levels, each of the other Princesses has 3 levels with the third level being the Villain level: Ursula (Ariel), Malificient (Aurora), Gaston (Belle), Stepmother/ Lucifer the Cat/ Ugly Step Sisters (Cinderella), Evil Queen (Snow White), and Jafar (Jasmine). 

The level breakdown goes like this:
Cinderella vs. Ugly Step Sisters Dance Off
Cinderella: the first level is a search and find items for the Stepmother, whilst cleaning up after Lucifer against the clock. The second level is a dance off against the Ugly Stepsisters.

Snow White singing for help
Belle starts in the woods throwing snowballs at wolves and LaFue before entering the castle to find the Enchanted Servants and keys to access certain areas within a certain time limit. She then drops books on Gaston to stop him from capturing 4 of her friends: Chip, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth and Lumiere.

Snow White is in the forest, singing to poisonous trees to put them to sleep temporally whilst collecting jewels to free the dwarves who have been turned into stones. Then the adventures heads to the Dwarves mine (on my copy the game is slightly faulty as its hard to see the entrances to the mines once the Dwarves have unblocked it. Snow White uses her voice to summon a Dwarf to clear the rocks but she has to have a pick axe to do so! Visit Happy for an extra pickaxe if you run out. Snow White must summon Grumpy to throw an apple at the Evil Queen (disguised as the old Hag) whilst dodging apples.

Aurora battling Malificient with magic wand
Aurora also starts in the woods trying to find her 3 Fairy Godmothers who have been turned into butterflies. She uses one of their wands to find their owner, but the wand disappears once this has been done, so any enemies must be put to sleep first! The second level is a bit tricker; using coloured potions to release the same coloured roses, Aurora must explore the castle, (great for trying to find the 100 coins and treasure stamps), with the ultimate aim to wake the castle via he throne room. Her final level is on Malficient's drawbridge (where Prince Phillip is kept in the film).
Ariel freeing the Merfolk

Ariel (in her mermaid form throughout the game) encourages the most exploration, and can be the most frustrating on the second level. Ursula and her two electric eels have captured Sebastian, King Triton and 17 Merfolk. The first level is to free Sebastian in a shipwreck, then the second level uses portals which are activated when freeing merfolk, and can be frustrating to navigate (and once past a certain point cannot go back), with the ultimate goal of freeing Ariel's father King Triton. Ursula's battle also uses the eels as a distraction for Ariel, but she is relatively easy to beat.

Jasmine battling the hardest boss Jafar
Jasmine is the most "gung-ho" of the Princesses if you exclude Ariel. She starts in the Cave of Wonders on the Magic Carpet, avoiding fire throwing statues and magic rotating swords to solve puzzles and free Genie from his lamp. Next in Agrabah, she avoids guards and uses Genie as a trampoline, to help gain access to the palace for her showdown with Jafar! I found Jafar the hardest to beat with his range of attacks (hot fire on the floor and missiles thrown at Jasmine), apparently there is some sort of pattern but it also depends where Jasmine is on screen to where Jafar aims his attacks, but destroy his staff with your sword and you have won.

The final level aka Special Stage is to gain the ultimate Tiara involves each of the 6 Princesses catching their magic jewels to restore the magic to their kingdoms (seen through an archway, with a very clever design of a lily pond in the foreground for Ariel's turn). Once this is done, the game is completed, but no real definitive ending e.g. a screen saying "The End".

This game is ideal for Disney Princess fans with a range of difficulty to help on the difficult bits. I would love to see this and other Disney games on the 3DS Virtual Console as some of these older "retro" games are better than their modern day equivalents, with better storytelling and puzzles with the target audience taken into account.
Special Stage: catching magic gems