The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles

What happens when Mulgarath gets the book?
Developer / Distributor: Stormfront Studios / Sierra Entertainment
Release Date: 5 Feb 2008

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Rating: ESRB – Everyone 10+, PEGI 12

GamersGate - Buy and download games for PC andIntroduction
The title of today’s blog says it all, if you are a fan of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi who worked together on their best selling series of novels – The Spiderwick Chronicles, you would immediately know that Mulgarath is the big, bad, and ugly shapeshifting ogre who is the main antagonist after the kids of the Grace family.

The tagline from The Spiderwick Chronicles is Their world is closer than you think. Ominous isn’t it… I feel it’s a marvelous plot device for pulling kids into this incredible story of fairies and monsters.

The Spiderwick Chronicles video game also does an admirable the job of immersing you in the world of make believe. The game mostly mirrors the 2008 movie directed by Mark Waters and introduces the story from the perspective of the three children of the Grace family. They have recently moved into the Spiderwick Estate with their mother after her recent divorce. 

Let’s see, we have the twin brothers Jared and Simon, their elder sister Mallory. Jared is upset about the move and becomes rather despondent, that is until he starts exploring the house and finds a bound leather book with the mysterious title “Arthur Spirderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You“.

I am an arachnophobic

The Game Menu
Other than the single player option, you will also notice a multiplayer option available from the main menu. This latter option is not available until you have completed about one third of the single player game. I will talk more about the multiplayer option further into the review. Let’s instead dive into the single player game and find out what the game has to offer.

Game Play
Once you enter the single player game, you will notice that you are controlling Jared. You will then be shown a couple of tutorial type messages that teach you what you should do – how you move your character, exploration, looking at things, being introduced to your journal, and more.

A pretty good adaptation

The early stages of the game are mostly an exploration type adventure game as you walk through the house looking at every thing and searching every nook and cranny until you find the aforementioned Field Guide owned by Arthur Spiderwick.

Along the way, you will notice many objects lying around the house. Most of these items will only be used later in the game. Fortunately, the help system will be staying with you throughout the entire game and instructing you on what you have to do next.

If you forget or are not sure what to do next, you can always refer to your Journal – you will usually find a broad hint there on what to do next.

There’s help every step of the way

The game rewards you with videos when you reach significant points in the story. The videos contain scenes from the movie; I suggest you watch the movie first before you spoil all your fun.

Anyway, what happens next is that you get introduced to Thimbletack. This is when the game becomes a platformer style game. Moving Thimbletack is not too difficult. You will get to control him to walk, perform automatic jumps (most of the time) over gaps and obstacles, run (and even run vertically up walls), shimmy up and down poles, and best of all – skewer cockroaches with a sewing needle from afar. You sure wouldn’t be needing any insecticides with Thimbletack around.

A scene straight from the movie

Unfortunately, there are some parts of the platform game that can get pretty confusing as you ponder the mystery of what to do next – like when the Seeing Stone disappears down a pipe, how in the world do you make your way down that pipe?

One other thing I just have to add, the way Thimbletack keeps on spouting sentences in rhyming pairs, it really makes me want to turn green into a boggle. On the other hand, I can just imagine the tons of giggles when this game gets into the hands of your kids. It’s pretty cute and interesting with so much variety going on.

Thimbletack is one cool 3D entity

There’s even more variety when you leave the safety of your house and head further afield. You will have to face sprites and goblins. Let’s cover them separately.

Sprites are cute little flying creatures that you must catch as they flit and fly all over the level. Once you manage to catch one, you are introduced to a mini-game where you use a paint brush to pain the sprite on your Field Guide before a countdown timer expires. If you succeed in your painting, you would have netted a power for yourself. Depending on which of the ten types of sprites you capture, you will get a specific power-up that you can employ at any point in the game. Sprite powers include healing, damage boosts, speed boosts, and even distractions.

Get that Seeing Stone at once

Goblins on the other hand are dastardly monsters that attack your character with impunity. There are a couple of varieties of this monster – the weak green ones, the fast red ones, and bigger varieties that look rather ugly. You have two means of defeating the goblins – the first is your trusty baseball bat, and the second your slingshot.

The baseball bat is pretty easy to use against enemies who are close to you. The slingshot on the other hand is for you to take out enemies from a distance. You can choose the type of ammunition you wish to use with your slingshot – either normal stones or ball bearings which do more damage.

I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly

Once a goblin is dead, it leaves behind goblin teeth. Collecting them helps to unlock new attack styles and combos against your enemy, so go ahead and take them out. By the time you are done with the game, you would likely have taken out hundreds of goblins.

Later on in the game, you will have to solve some puzzles and explore some pretty interesting locations like a forest, a nearby quarry, and even some underground tunnels. There’s definitely lots to see in this game, and also to collect – like gobstones and more.

Kill or be killed

You also get to fight interesting boss monsters. There will be instances when a creature will either jump onto your back or grab you in their hands; that’s when you have to shake your mouse like crazy – Wii style – to get them to release you.

That about covers most of the game play in The Spiderwick Chronicles. Let’s talk a bit about the multiplayer game now. The multiplayer game has you joining the International Sprite Leage. You get to run around outside the house trying to catch the greatest number of sprites or fighting off enemies. This is a nice little diversion that will last you a short while after you finish the main game.

Explore strange environments

The Music and Sound Effects
I found the music by Robb Mills to be very well done. It certainly evokes a sense of mystery and of the fantastic; it will surely go well with kids. You can preview the music from the game on Robb’s website.

The sound effects are also nicely done and do manage to capture the imagination as you hear the grunts, squeals, and roars of the bad guys.

Watch cool scenes

The Spiderwick Chronicles has turned out to be an interesting experience for me. I have seen the movie before playing the game and was pleasantly surprised that the game was a pretty good adaptation of the movie. It’s also nice to see that the characters, monsters, and buildings plus environments all modeled beautifully with nice looking graphic textures being applied on them.

I found myself enjoying the game play, but found some of the fighting sequences tend to be rather repetitive. The platformer aspect of the game was pretty weak because the design of the game appears to be designed to appeal to kids. Although it’s not really a walk in the park for all, the game can get rather difficult at certain points and will need your perseverance in trying until you succeed.

Fight nasty bosses

The adventure aspect is also rather straightforward especially if you spend time exploring the entire game world. And when in despair, you could always just read your Journal for tips on what to do next.

I heartily recommend The Spiderwick Chronicles video game for kids. It should last them at least six to seven hours. You can also join in the fun and educate your child on what the game is trying to teach – conquer your fears, and stand up for what is right.

Stop the bad guys

The Verdict


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