Disney's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



The release of The Little Mermaid, back in the late 80's, was arguably what brought Disney back on track and the studios previous animated movies were deemed too dark and confusing by critics and the general public alike. This was a new, if not totally original, direction and the decision to concentrate on classic fairy tales was a policy which had first made the House of the Mouse so famous in the first place. Disney games have had a similar history and past release have been a real mixed bag in terms of quality and gameplay although they do boast one of the best movie tie-in's ever the the GBA version of Lilo and Stitch. With all this considered we're popping this cart in our DS with little or no expectations but will we be surprised?


At it's heart Areil's Undersea Adventures is an exploration game and almost everyone one you meet, on your travels will have a task of some description they require doing. This leaves you to do all the hard work although the majority of the time you'll simply be undertaking all manor of 'fetch' quests such as bring back this or locate that. There are some more interesting ones and guiding a school of fish to the bottom of the ocean, whilst fighting against the rising air bubbles, is actually quite challenging. There's also a huge amount of collecting to be done and locating treasure is always worth while as the resulting booty can be traded for clips from the film. Outside of the roaming aspect you can also visit with Sabastian and help with rehersals or even arrange your collected 'human treasure' in your grotto. The fact is, there's a great deal to do here and the game design means that you'll never be punished for not completeing a task or doing something completely wrong meaning gamers will attempt a puzzle of task repeatedly without becoming too frustrated or dispondent.


Controlling Ariel is simplicity itself and, even if you do happen to become a little confused, there's more than enough on-screen help available.


For a Disney title the game is not nearly as good looking as you'd expect and similar titles I've reviewed in the past have always shone in this department. This is mainly down to the main character of Ariel and while she is in glorious 3D the moddeling seem to lack the charm and magic of the movies which pretty much defeats the object of the whole thing.


Audio wise there are a few Carribean and Ocean themed tracks running through the game but they do seem to lack that oomph to make them really memorable.

Dual screen

Developers Gorilla have had a bit of a field day as far as the DS's extended features are concerned and you'll not only have to use the stylus to clean up 'treasure' and burst bubbles but you'll also use the microphone throughout the game. The majority of this is to simply blow dust off objects you've discovered but you'll also have to sing. Yes, we did say sing. This occurs when you have to open one of the many chests you find on the sea bed and after a demonstration you must replicate the various notes displayed ( and played) on the screen. This is no doubt relatively simple for you average pre-teen girl but a little more difficult for a mature male reviewer I'm sure you'll agree. There's also rhythm games and other pursuits and overall it's a very impressive use of the of what the Ds was originally designed for a perfectly pitched for younger gamers who prefer this type of thing.

Final comments

Ariel's Undersea Adventure will no doubt delight the female pre-teen crowd and the gameplay here is both well rounded and varied. Most impressive, from a technical point of view, is just how well the developers have integrated the DS's unique features into the gameplay, many of which we haven't seen before. That aside though, there's a great deal to do here whilst alos staying very close to why The Little Mermaid was so successful in the first place. Definately recommended if you happen to be a pre-teen girl, a Disney fan, and looking for a game with varied and engaging gameplay.

Pro: Loads of Gameplay Variety
Con: Not The Best Looking Disney Title Available.
Final score: 7.1


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Boxart of Disney's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Gorilla
Publisher: Buena Vista Interactive