Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-20 Nintendo DS Adventure E (Everyone) Disney Interactive

Peter Pan's temperamental little fairy friend stars in her own game, bringing the magical world of fairies to little girls everywhere. But while cute and colorful, the gameplay experience might not be the most appropriate for the young girl gamer crowd.

You play as Tinkerbell, charged with the task of helping the fairy Ministers prepare for the next season. The game is mission-based, with each season beginning by receiving a list from the Minister with all the items required to make the next season happen. This request list is shown on the top screen.

Tink has a knack for repairing items, so usually you will also get an object to repair as part of the preparations. You can repair items in the workshop, by replacing the missing pieces (like a puzzle), applying glue to stick them in place, gently tapping to remove the excess glue, rubbing the item to polish it, or blowing on the microphone to remove the dust.

The repairing is pretty much the only activity that you know right away where to do to complete, since a nice helpful fairy will tell you all about it. But the other tasks is where the game begins being vague enough to even get me lost.

To prepare for the season, you will need to find the items on the Minister's list, but you are never given much information about where to go or who to talk to. So basically, you get the list then wander aimlessly in the available areas of Pixie Hollow talking to everyone until you find the one fairy that will help you and reward you with something you need (in exchange for a favor, of course).

Some of the fairies will have mini-games for you to play. The rewards are usually the item you need for your quest, and additional materials (more about that later).

Silvermist, the water fairy, will ask you to collect dew drops for her. In this task, you hold a basket made of leaves and collect as many dew drops as possible as they drip from the leaves on the touch screen. But you must avoid the worms, or they will eat your basket.

Fawn, the animal fairy, teaches you how to spin silk thread from the worms. I found the controls didn't respond so well in this game. The point is to lightly rub the silk worm until it falls asleep, but no matter how lightly I touched, it seemed to upset the little critter about 80% of time (or not register the movement at all) instead of relaxing it. Once it falls asleep, it curls up into a circle, which is your hint to rub it around in circles to spin the thread.

Rosetta, the garden fairy, has a ladybug painting activity. Several ladybugs have lost their dots, and you must place the dots in the right places according to the model on the top screen. The more accurate the placement, the better your score.

These are only a few of the games, and there are other alternative tasks such as collecting petals and seeds and giving them to other fairies to either make flowers or grow fruits. All items you collect can be exchanged for medals (your currency) at the store. You can also buy clothes for Tink's wardrobe (dresses, tops, skirts and shoes), change her outfit and save clothes combinations as your favorites. Further into the game, you will also be able to create patterns for your clothes, but only for top, skirt and boots and using the limited stamps and given color options. There is also an accessory creation activity where you use the item you've found to make bracelets and necklaces. You can even gift-wrap them and give them as a gift to other fairies, and see them sporting your creations around Pixie Hollow.

There is an interesting honors/achievements system that rewards you for certain activities, for example catching a number of dew drops, growing fruits, delivering items, creating flowers, collecting clothes and more. Some of them will unlock items for your avatar in D-Gamer (Disney's online community).

The game's presentation is definitely a plus. The backgrounds are fairly detailed and every area has a different look and feel according to the season. Exploring is quite nice in the esthetic sense, since the scenarios are very colorful and pretty, and they change according to the time of day. However, the directions aren't always clear. Passages to other areas are represented by arrows, which only appear when you tap the screen and hold the stylus down. In most cases, the arrows flash in different colors and many times blend with the background, making them extremely difficult to see. I managed to get completely stuck for quite a while because I couldn't see one of these blending directional arrows. In other cases, you seem to find yourself zoning in and out of a certain place because the arrows are that close to the spot where you zone in, and as you place the stylus down, instead of moving, you go back to where you came from.

The sprites and especially the 3D models are quite nice and animate well, and you have close-ups of the fairies on the top screen during conversations. Unfortunately, all the dialog is done through text instead of voice acting, which would have made the game more appropriate to younger children who are just learning how to read.

After you've gone through the first four seasons, you can keep on playing and going through as many seasons as you want, but the repetitive task process might not keep the target audience interested for that long.

While the cute and colorful world of Pixie Hollow is still a magical and interesting place to visit, Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell could have used some better child-friendly features, mainly the voice acting, better directions and more diverse activities, which would have made it more appealing to younger girl gamers.

Special thanks to Kathryn Green, Sunny Ing and Disney Interactive for providing a copy of this title.