Friday, December 19, 2008

Experience True Love and High Adventure for under $10!

How often do you get to have fun playing a video game with your child that isn't so boring that you want to jump out the window before it is over? What if you could also share one of your favorite movies with your young child in a way that they could actually understand and that would enhance your experience of the film together?

For under $10?

This review is kind of a departure for this blog. It is about something new and something old at the same time. When my kids were younger, there were not too many movies that we allowed them to watch. One of those movies was Rob Reiner's 1987 classic, The Princess Bride, from the book by S. Morgenstern - I mean, by William Goldman.

Fast forward twenty years, and you have The Princess Bride Game - a romp for kids about age 6-12, and really anyone at all who loves the movie. The game features some voices from the original cast, including Wally Shawn as Vizzini, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, and Robin Wright Penn as Buttercup. In the same way that Sesame Street and Bill Nye the Science Guy were able to keep parents' attention with allusions to things they were familiar with that were over the kids' heads, The Princess Bride game succeeds in engaging the parent as well as the child with the many references and memories that come from the beloved film.

"Never go up against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!"

This is a series of five mini-game modules with themes and dialogue taken from the movie. My now adult daughter couldn't resist playing it just to see what it was like, since The Princess Bride is still one of her favorite movies, and she verified the accuracy of the voice acting and the movie quotes.

Before each module there is an animated sequence that reenacts the events of the movie to explain what will he happening in the module. It is possible to skip those parts and go directly to the games, but the animation is charming and the scenes are faithful to the movie.

Grab some popcorn.

Each module has an easy, medium and hard mode, but you don't get to choose which one you start with. Everyone starts at easy and moves up through the levels. Players do need to either be able to read the instructions or have a parent or caregiver playing with them who can explain what to do. The modules are "borderline educational". In addition to being related to the movie, young players are clicking to perform tasks in a certain order and within a time limit, blending colors to mix a particular potion, finding hidden objects, devising strategies to escape the fire swamp, answering "inconceivable" trivia questions and unscrambling words, and collecting and assembling inventory needed to defeat the evil Humperdinck.

Think "Jump Start" meets "Super Mario." Fun, interesting, addictive.

The easy level is really easy, and appropriate for the very youngest Princess Bride fans. But there are several activities per module, and several levels per activity, with a possible 72 levels in all, providing hours of play before beating the game. There is apparently also a film clip that activates at the end of each module, but you have to complete all the levels to get that last movie to activate.

Visit the official game website for trailers, and demos of several modules, as well as information about how to purchase the game as a download from the site, or at retailers online and nationwide. Then grab that popcorn and settle in.

As the original tagline for the movie says, "She gets kidnapped. He gets killed. But it all ends up okay."

Rated E for Everyone. (Comic Micschief and Mild Cartoon Violence.)

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