In between the games 36 levels (the last 6 are bonus levels), the game tells the story of Despereaux via narrative sequences shown as a book turning pages. Each level is short and can be completed in between 2 to 15 minutes. Using a side-scrolling mechanism, you control Despereaux as he runs, jumps, scurries up walls, wall jumps, and uses a grapple hook to traverse wide spaces. Despereaux can also pick up and throw objects, which create interesting puzzles about how to use these objects to trigger mousetraps or activate pulleys.
While this linear game is shorter than the console game, it is more fun because the controls are finely tuned. In these challenging environments, you always feel as if you can make it through by searching carefully or thinking through the puzzle correctly. In the console version, you frequently find yourself just hurling yourself at things to see if you luck into that one spot that will enable you to stick to a wall or jump to the right spot.
Also, the levels are amazingly inventive and constantly changing, making the game fun to play throughout. For example, when in the dungeon, you can tap a torch with your stylus and then transfer the fire to light a candle. When you do, a menacing rat will cower in the light so that you can run past him.
As with the console version, this game has frequent save points and a generous number of lives, so kids won’t feel frustrated. And while there is combat using a sewing needle as your sword to defeating beetles, birds, and other creatures who get in your way, these creatures don’t seem as scary as in the console version.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.