Although I was super excited to get my review copy of the Princess Bride game, I wasn’t sure whether I would automatically like this game because it’s based on the Princess Bride, or hate it because it’s based on the Princess Bride but different. (see also: why I dislike movies based on books I liked)
The Princess Bride Game is divided into 5 games, separated by the grandfather’s narration and animated cutscenes from the movie. The first one, As You Wish, is absolutely brilliant. You play as Wesley, doing farm chores. Your time management objectives are interrupted when Buttercup shows up and wants you to do something for her. I’ve always though Buttercup was kind of a pain with her imperious requests, so the game was true to the spirit of the movie and fun to play.
In the second part, players match wits with Vizzini. The difficulty level reminded me that I’m playing a kids’ game. While you play, Vizzini shout funny insults at you. Wallace Shawn — the actor who made “Inconceivable!” famous — is actually the voice actor here, which makes it really better. I was really impressed with the voice talent that Worldwide Biggies got, including Mandy Patinkin and Robin Wright (Penn).
The third part was the Fireswamp, which was my least favorite part of the movie and, coincidentally, my least favorite minigame. I’m not really into the whole genre of jumping and hitting gems for points. Arcade-style Wesley and Buttercup were cute, but not cute enough to make this part fun. I also don’t like that Wesley gets the sword and Buttercup can, um, jump high. I tried to use it as a combat jump but an ROUS bit me.
The fourth part is a visit to Miracle Max, a hidden objects game (of the good secret-clues variety) and a potion-mixing minigame. On the first level, this was so unchallenging that it was almost boring, but later on I started to feel like I was brewing in Snape’s class. Miracle Max and As You Wish are both worth playing long after you’ve completed the objectives, even if Miracle Max did sound like someone attempting a Billy Crystal impression.
The final game, Storming the Castle was a letdown. The challenge is to re-watch the intro and outro movies and look for specific items to build a Rube Goldberg seige engine. You’re given the outline of the item, and you need to add it to your inventory. Maybe if I hadn’t played the game in one sitting (and if I hadn’t seen the movie a billion times), I’d have liked the story recap, but instead I felt like I was being forced to watch cutscenes in a mode that’s least conductive to enjoying their art.
Overall, As You Wish is the strongest section in this casual adventure game. Without the Princess Bride connection, some parts of the game would be average casual games (the Fireswamp being a particularly weak spot), but the playing as dear Princess Bride characters kept me entertained. The Princess Bride Game keeps all the charm and appeal of the fantasy romance we loved in the book and the movie.