While this action-adventure game retells the story as shown in the movie through narrative and video clips from the movie, the focus of the gameplay is on combat, platform puzzle play, and object collection quests.
For those unfamiliar with the books, "The Spiderwick Chronicles" tells the story of a mother and her three kids who move from New York City to the ramshackle country home of their great aunt after the father leaves the mother for another woman. In a secret room in the old house, son Jared discovers a rare book, written by his great-great uncle, called "Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You." When Jared opens the book and reads it, he learns of the existence of fairies, brownies, goblins, ogres, trolls and other unseen magical creatures. He also draws the attention of the evil and scary ogre Mulgarath, who will stop at nothing to get the book.
Kids play as Jared and his siblings, Simon and Mallory, as well as the helpful magical creature named Thimbletack. The game is broken into eight chapters containing 29 story-based quests and 28 side missions. In one of the story-based quests, you play as Thimbletack, a tiny brownie who resembles both a man and a mouse, so that you can fit between the walls to find the magical Seeing Stone (an object that lets humans see the unseen magical world). To navigate within the walls, you must jump on platforms, climb up rods, avoid electrical bolts, and stab cockroaches with straight pins. Other quests involved fighting hordes of goblins that attack you, or collecting items to build helpful things.
The Spiderwick Chronicles video game does a good job of recreating the world presented in the movie. While it sets boundaries where you can't go, kids can run around the Spiderwick estate and surrounding areas to explore this fascinating world. They can collect fairies by using the Wii remote as a net. Once caught, a fairy will help you if you quickly paint their likeness, a minigame during which you use the Wii remote as a paint brush to draw broad strokes on the screen. Fairies become useful when fighting other baddies.
While the movie contains fighting scenes where goblins, trolls, and ogres attack, the game places a heavier emphasis on this combat and fighting. At frequent points in the game, hordes of goblins will attack you and you must fight back by smashing them with a baseball bat or stabbing them with a sword until they bleed green blood and disappear. The combat system isn't very sophisticated, so you will be waving the Wii remote furiously or button-mashing if you want to vanquish your enemies. You will also have to fight your way through stronger enemies, including Redcap, the leader of the goblins, a Land Troll, and the large and frightening ogre Mulgarath. These sequences can be intense and somewhat scary, thus triggering the "E+10" rating from the ESRB for fantasy violence and animated blood.
A frustrating aspect of this game is that the camera angles don't work well. Frequently you can't see where you are jumping to or where your enemy is; so you play blindly, hoping for the best.
The bottom line is that this is an average movie tie-in game. Kids will spend a lot of time fighting their way through this magical but somewhat scary world.
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