Disney Princess: Magical Jewels
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-11-18 Nintendo DS Platform E (Everyone) Disney Interactive Studios / 1st Playable Productions

What better role-models and enticement for little girl gamers than Disney's famous Princesses? Timeless characters, some that have been around for decades, and their charming stories have enchanted many all over the world. Our site's content is after all written by girls, so playing a game aimed at little girls with princesses as the protagonists seemed like the right thing to do.

Disney Princess: Magical Jewels is a side-scrolling platformer that encourages exploration. The simple story tells us how a series of jewels have gone missing, shattered into pieces and scattered all over four kingdoms. Bringing the pieces together and reforming the jewels will allow you to rebuild an ancient castle and restore the Kingdom of Kindness to its former glory. But an evil Ice Queen is also in search for the jewels, and she will do whatever she can to take them away from you.

You play as a pixie kind of creature, Spryte, who acts as a guide for the princesses. Making their appearance in this game, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle will accompany Spryte on a "tour" of their environments searching for and collecting the missing shards.

Tapping sparkling objects or people will sometimes reveal more shards or make something happen. Here and there, you also collect some of the princesses' favorite items (roses, daisies, berries, crystal slippers) and meet other characters in need of help finding a particular item.

You touch and drag to control Spryte, tracing lines to make the shards fall down so the princesses can catch them. Spryte can only help locate them, while the princesses must collect them themselves, so you alternate between controlling Spryte or the princesses, but it feels like you're really just dragging them along and that they're not really necessary. In fact, there is a little string of stars that connects them to Spryte when we move them. To advance to the next stage, you must collect a minimum amount of shards indicated on the sparkling sign. But the more you collect, the better your chances of unlocking a new wallpaper or a dress for the princesses.

There aren't many obstacles, so exploring and advancing is pretty straightforward. There are stairs, invisible bridges and tamps (you draw a line to make them appear), some air currents that take you to different platforms and a few objects that you can tap (for example, pulling a curtain back or breaking a large rock). A few enemies have been placed in your path, but they don't really hurt, so the "game over" has been eliminated. You just need to tap them to turn them into flowers and you can walk over with the princess with no problem.

Each level has at least one jewel shard. After you have found all the pieces that compose one of the jewels, the Ice Queen will appear and take it away - yes, every single time. So you enter a vertical chasing mini-game spanning the two screens, where Spryte flies after her, where the purpose is to dodge the freezing spells and ice clouds while collecting enough shards to fill the meter.

Every time you retrieve a jewel you get to place it anywhere on the crown. Each of the sixteen jewels represents a piece of the castle that you are rebuilding, so you can move them and rearrange them to your liking on the crown.

Ariel and Jasmine also make a small appearance in the mini-games. In Jasmine's game, you fly around in the Magic Carpet collecting lamps, and with Ariel you blow bubbles to fill up the screen faster than Sebastian. They only last for a few seconds, really. The third mini-game is the Ice Queen chase that you do during the jewel retrieval.

The presentation of Magic Jewels is quite nice. Very colorful, lots of little details in the levels, and the music is absolutely fairytale-like. There is a little bit of voice acting for the princesses and Spryte, but don't expect more than a few giggles and exclamations of joy or a word here and there.

It's a shame that we can't control the princesses directly, and alternate between one character and the other individually. They just feel mostly useless in the game, and the only actions they have are a wave and a twirl (pressing B and A respectively).

Although there are wallpapers and new dresses to unlock, having a few more collectibles (maybe in the form of more mini-games and artwork) would have made the exploration much more rewarding.

Even if the game is fairly simple for young girls to pick up and play and there are over 70 stages to explore, it still becomes repetitive after a little while. But it is very charming and suitable for the target age group. If you have a little girl at home who loves Disney Princesses, Magical Jewels would definitely put a smile on her face.

Special thanks to Kate Pagliara and Disney Interactive for providing a copy of this title.