Platformers were all the rage when I was a kid. Some will argue they are still popular but other than Mario and a couple other Nintendo games, they are no where near as big as they was back in the 90’s. Back then platformers seemed to be the go to when making games. Be it a fat plumber, a speedy hedgehog and even a Pencil, as long as you could run jump and collect things we were happy. Over in Japan they decided to go with this formula and toss in Alice. You may have read the Alice in Wonderland book in school or most of us watched the Disney classic. Alice in Wonderdream is a pretty interesting but lazy take on the story we all know.
Did you ever hear the expression “use your words not your fists”? Well Alice takes that saying to heart. She attacks her enemies by yelling at them. This is represented by some Japanese text that flies out of her mouth. Holding down the attack button charges her scream which of course is a stronger attack. You can also jump on enemies heads which I found to actually be more effective and kill them quicker.
The reason I called the game lazy is because the backgrounds and even the level designs are repetitive. The first world is the Forest and has four acts. In act two it already felt like I was playing the same level. Just slightly rearranged enemies. They toss in characters from Alice in Wonderland like the cards, the White Rabbit, and some dodo birds. I can’t tell you what’s going on with the story. The text is in Japanese, which I cannot read. My take is that Alice was sleeping and some super spooky demon messed up her dream and now she has to try to wake up. Take that with a grain of salt as that was completely made up off the top of my head.
Even the boss fights seem to repeat every two levels! Granted I didn’t play the game all the way through, but what I saw repeated often. First you fight some ghosts followed by an alligator. Both can be defeated quicker by jumping on their heads rather than trying to scream at them. You’ll soon be fighting them again but with a color swap. Another reason why I think the game was lazily done. After you complete a world the White Rabbit will appear and ask you to pull his finger. Okay maybe he doesn’t but it certainly looks that way! You will also receive a book which is when the game gets a little interesting.
When you pause the game and hit button 1, you will bring up a menu that contains the books you have collected. I only managed to get a red and blue book. Judging by the menu size I assume there are three more. The red book reveals items that are hidden throughout the levels. The screen turns dark and items will appear for a limited time. You can use the books as long as you have enough magic. The blue orbs at the bottom of your screen is your magic meter. Some items you can find restore magic and health. Some will even extend your life and magic meters. The blue book simply allows you to jump higher. I forgot to mention that the power meter determines how strong your scream attack is. Hold it down to make it stronger. Hold it to long and Alice gets tired.
There isn’t really any more to say about Alice in Wonderdream. Sadly, this is one of those games that look amazing by the screen shots but turn out to be bad when you play them. A risk we gamers from the 80’s and 90’s took often. We didn’t have internet reviews back then and we relied on magazine reviews. And lets face it, not every game got reviewed back then. Even though the story and menu are in Japanese it is 100% playable by non Japanese readers. The graphics are really nice and colorful. They did a great job in that department. It’s just a shame they took the lazy route with this one. It could have been much more.
- Repetitive level design
- Alice in Wonderland characters seem tossed in
- Repetitive boss fights complete with lazy color swaps
- Kill enemies by screaming in their faces