Oh Alice, dear Alice. You have been running around chasing rabbits all my life, and you seem intent on keeping up this unruly behaviour. White rabbits might be sweet and all but please get an iPod Touch instead. It is much safer than venturing into the Wonderland. But I understand the draw, the excitement of the unknown. Who wouldn’t want to talk to rabbits, cats and meet the Mad Hatter. Of course the Red Queen is there to disturb the peace. In Alice in Wonderland you have to help Alice to get out of Wonderland.
I have always loved the surreal writing of Lewis Carrol, and now I get to play as the characters of the novel. I have done so in the past as well for the PC in American McGee’s Alice. Now with a new Disney remake of Alice in Wonderland it is understandable that a game surfaces. Movie tie-ins tend to be quite poor, but in the case of Alice in Wonderland the movie has to be quite spectacular to beat the game. From what I have seen though the movie has a lot of content that the game lacks. I find this somewhat strange as tie-ins usually run the story and content parallel to the movie.
Alice in Wonderland – An Adventure Beyond the Mirror is a platform puzzler with a heavy focus on spatial puzzles. In the beginning of the game Alice is on her own, and she can only jump and enter doors/mirror/cracks. She soon encounters the White Rabbit that can freeze certain objects in time. This helps to get platforms in position, and freeze crates in position. To switch between these characters you simply tap on Alice to get a character selection menu. Time pauses when you do this. As you progress through the game the other characters are added to the party. The Cheshire Cat can remove/create objects with a green glow to them. The March Hare has the power of telekinesis, and can move objects with blue glow between blue spots. Finally the Mad Hatter can move objects between the worlds if they have a purple glow.
It is somewhat strange to only have one character that can move. Alice trots around in her light blue dress, and looks kind of stuck-up. She isn’t moving like a child, but rather like a self conscious 18-year-old. In the lower left of the screen you can find a left and right button for movement, and to the right a jump button. Whenever Alice is in front of a door or other interactive object an icon shows up in the middle of the screen. The jumping ability of Alice is poor, and whenever I reach a gap in a level I know that there is a puzzle to solve instead of Super Mario jumping. Touch controls are used for the other characters, and it works really well. Tapping to remove/create, and dragging to move blue objects using the March Hare. Later in the game you also encounter special rooms that needs you to rotate your iPhone to solve them.
The puzzles found in Alice in Wonderland range from easy to fiendishly hard. I really enjoy the dual dimension puzzles where you have to move objects using the Mad Hatter. Moving mirrors, and running through them can give a sense of confusion. At times I have had to rely on trial and error to solve some puzzles. I have also managed to screw up some puzzles beyond repair. This has forced me to restart the game. The option to go back to the map removes all progress made, but just pressing the home button and restart will let you continue from the last checkpoint. The checkpoint system is appreciated, but at times it gives you several checkpoints at short intervals and at other times it is ten minutes between them. Alice dies a lot from spiky objects, falling in water, getting speared by enemies and getting crates dropped on her. Thankfully there is no limit to the number of lives or retries.
The presentation is quite solid with nice backgrounds, and a cool surreal vibe to the graphics. The characters are kind of simple in design, and Alice lacks animation thus making her feel more rigid and older than her supposed age. The story is told in text messages between characters, and I found this to be somewhat annoying as the text is small and dark. Furthermore there are large stones with interesting writings on them but the font used together with the white on grey colour makes it hard to read. Using the pinch in/out gesture the game can be zoomed out. Further into the game this is a must to be able to solve the puzzles, and the game actually looks much better zoomed out. The music is really good, and feels perfect for transporting me into Wonderland.
Alice in Wonderland took me about four hours to complete, and during that time I felt entertained, excited and challenged. I managed to get outside of the mirrored Wonderland with a strange bug, and it actually felt fitting that I managed to go outside of the game. The puzzles found in Alice in Wonderland are varied and rewarding to solve. I got hooked right away playing the lite version, and I felt that it was cruel to having me wait a week to get my hands on the full game.
There is some extra content such as rewards for visiting the different Disneylands, getting some dates correctly, and take pictures of certain objects. There are also objects found within the game to collect. Other than that there is little to no reason to replay the game once you have completed it. In the end it all boils down to one question: what is the price of fun? Five bucks for three to four hours of fun is a good deal for me. Alice in Wonderland – An Adventure Beyond the Mirror is one of the best puzzle platformers for the iPhone, and definitely gets my recommendation. It gets an Editor’s Choice for the clever puzzles, lovely graphical style and musical score. Now I actually want to see this movie.
Alice in Wonderland – An Adventure Beyond the Mirror $4.99
Seller: Walt Disney
Alice in Wonderland Lite