Sometimes after watching the latest kids film, you get the impression you should have taken an advanced cultural studies module to fully understand the subtext. The output of Pixar has long defined the sector's highwater mark for example, but laggards such as Disney (now Pixar's owner), are catching up fast. Even Enchanted, a film that at one-time would have been a standard Disney Christmas romcom, has morphed into an oh-so-smart thankyou-very-much parody.
Mixing live action, animation, and special effects, this is the story of a cartoon princess who finds herself exiled to modern day New York where her outmoded attitudes – and by extension those of conventional fairytales – are challenged and eventually abandoned in favour of modern sensibilities.
In terms of our particular focus however, this is all by the bye. Enchanted the movie may be genre-defying, but Enchanted the mobile game is about as groundbreaking as a school nativity play.
The premise is simple. Princess Giselle awakes one morning from a dream in which she sees the only man she'll ever love, a handsome prince. But in the mercurial fashion of dreams, her mental image begins to fade, and so the woodland creatures who made up the audience of her unusual early morning anecdote rush off to collect materials with which to make a statue of him.
How they know what he looks like is not disclosed - yet this marks your challenge.
The creation of each part of the statue requires three stages. The first sees you taking Pip the squirrel through a brief platform level to reach Bunny; then, with Bunny doing the grunt work you have to solve a match-three puzzle; finally, you have to steer either Fawn or Boar along a clearing, avoiding or vaulting puddles and logs until you reach Giselle's tree house.
This is workmanlike at best. Each level is made up entirely of inexplicably hanging fragments of branch, some of which sweep back and forth. Of course, there are jewels to collect, and as you advance special platforms become available, such as the nest, which functions as a restart point, and a bat-shaped lump that lets you jump a long distance.
These levels look pretty enough in an intricate embroidery-work kind of way, but playing through them is a plodding experience. There's no horizontal movement other than jumping – no platforms to actually run across – so in spirit it's as much a puzzle game as a platformer, requiring you to choose the right jump button ('4'/'6', '1'/'3' and '2' let you jump straight across, diagonally upwards, or straight up respectively), and find the right sequence of platforms.
The second mini-game is pure puzzle. You're faced with a grid of objects and the inevitable task of bringing those that are alike into conjunction. Using '2' and '8' you move up and down the side of the grid, selecting the entire row and moving it left and right with '4' and '6'. Pressing '5' switches to the vertical axis, allowing you to move the rows up and down instead.
An 'enchantment' bar also constantly shrinks across the top of the screen, partially replenishing every time you match objects. If it shrinks to nothing, you fail; if it fills to the top, you win. While not exactly original, this is one of the less common puzzle mechanics, and it works perfectly well.
The last of the three mini-games is the least of them. The statue component you need has been found and uncovered, so all that remains is for you to carry it to Giselle along a short, boggy, log-littered stretch of clearing. You canter automatically, and break into a trot by press '6'. Steering up and down is controlled via '2' and '8', and '5' lets you jump.
The listlessness of these sections is difficult to overstate. Not only is there very little to do, but accidentally stepping in a puddle or colliding with a log costs you virtually nothing. You just slow down for a moment before carrying on as normal. After about thirty seconds it's over.
It seems then that Enchanted makes the common mistake of assuming that because the difficulty of children's games must be low, quality can follow suit. It would be churlish to take the game too heavily to task however. It's hardly a surprise this is a piece of franchise fluff. Still, sadly, Enchanted doesn't disappoint any more or less than it delights.