Where the Wild Things Are
By James Whittle
It's a wild journey with Max and his giant monster friends in Where the Wild Things Are, a 2D platformer for the Nintendo DS portable gaming system.
As Max, the boy in a wolf costume, gamers travel through the mysterious jungle island of the Wild Things and help the monsters with their problems. As you progress through the game, you will collect special items and power-ups that will help you overcome obstacles and solve puzzles.
The game is based upon the 1963 children's picture book by American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak. Last year the book was adapted into a live-action motion picture directed by Spike Jonze that resulted in the usual tie-in video game.
The console versions of the game were, almost all gamers agreed, so bad that it wasn't even worth reviewing. Fortunately, the DS version is much better.
Players control Max with the D-pad: pressing A or B makes him jump, and Y or X allows him to temporarily stun enemies with a sonic roar. Y and X are also used to interact with items and pick up stunned enemies.
The touch-screen controls allow players to access one of four available Wild Things to help them out when they get into a pinch.
By touching the Wild Thing's portrait icon, Max will get a particular skill - for example, Carol can carry Max across pits of sharp dangerous spikes, while Judith can smash through stone walls.
Gamers can also pan the camera around for a better view of things that are slightly off screen by pressing the L or R shoulder buttons and the D-pad.
Game play is simple and undemanding. Even on the defaulted 'hard' setting, the game didn't pose much of a challenge. Thanks to generous hint icons littered throughout the early levels, gamers will be romping away in no time.
The game's graphics resemble the original illustrated book that the game is based on, which younger gamers will likely love. The sound passes muster for a DS a game, but excellent sound quality is not something we expect from DS games anyway.
Overall, very young players will enjoy Where the Wild Things Are, but mature gamers will be better off replaying New Super Mario Brothers.