Brave for the DS is a platformer which ties in with Disney's latest summer holiday film. Set in the Scottish highlands, it follows the tomboy princess Merida as she battles to lift a curse that's turned her whole family into bears. Players bash, smash and jump their way through a series of levels, solving some simple puzzles as they go - if your kids have played and enjoyed a film tie-in game before, the odds are this'll go down a treat too.
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The tutorial text that walks you through the main controls and mechanics is fully voiced, but Merida's ramblings during the levels and the various cutscenes shown throughout are only told through text, meaning that children who can't read so well may miss out on vital hints, or not really follow the story. They probably could still blindly smash their way through though, so it's not the deal breaker it could have been.
The game itself is pretty simple difficulty-wise - enemies fall pretty easily, and even though you're supposed to use the correct element to defeat certain monsters, they can still be defeated with the wrong one equipped. Where the problems may lie are the boss fights against an elemental giant, as they remain invincible until you activate each elemental switch - after which you have a limited time to attack them before the switches need to be turned on again. During this limited window, you'll also find yourself attacked by a load of other bad guys, as well as trying to avoid the blows of the giant - the odds are your child will lose several times, at least, before they beat them. And while you're not penalised for your deaths in any way - it'll just restart the boss fight until you manage it - it still may be enough to make younger kids a bit fed up.
A few of the puzzles may prove a bit complex for the younger contingent too - to activate certain objects in the game, you'll need to complete a short Touch Screen based-puzzle. These generally involve repeating back a sequence of elemental icons, shifting some stones out the way so a ball can reach an exit or creating a path for the elemental magic to "flow" from the top of the screen to the other. The latter is the one they're most likely to stumble on, as later levels require you to simultaneously create paths for up to four different icons - which tends to be more trial and error than serious figuring out, and may flummox the youngest.
The majority of these things are just little niggles, though, and shouldn't really hamper your child's enjoyment of the game too much. What may be the deal-breaker is Brave's length - at just three hours long, your kids will likely plough through it in no time, which is worth keeping in mind.
As you'd probably expect for a film tie-in game aimed at kids, Brave has no blood, bad language or sex in it at all. The violence it does have is pretty much typical for games of that ilk - you shoot/bash a bunch of enemies, who disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated. It's not too dissimilar to the Lego games really, so if you're fine with the violence involved there, the odds are you'll be fine with Brave too.
Brave is a single player game with no additional multiplayer modes available.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS