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Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell (Nintendo DS) review: Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell (Nintendo DS)

Tinkerbell offers a twee and sweet blend of adventure and mini-game action. It's not earth-shattering stuff, but it does work very well with its intended audience of pre-teen girls.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read
You'll spend a lot of time talking to friends. (Credit: CNET)

Tinkerbell, the eponymous fairy of Disney Interactive's latest kids-friendly game, would be 105 years old this year, so it's probably a very good thing she's an immortal fairy. For an immortal fairy, though, she's not been terribly present in the gaming world to speak of. This latest dip into all things tiny, winged and beloved of little girls is based loosely on the recent Tinkerbell DVD. Tinkerbell's the new fairy on the block, born (as per the JM Barrie original) with the skill of tinkering, which she uses to help her fairy friends usher in each of the year's seasons.


Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell (Nintendo DS)

The Good

Sweet and inoffensive to everybody. Mini-games are fun. Seven-year-olds love it.

The Bad

Only one save game. Annoyingly twee for parents. Repetitive gameplay.

The Bottom Line

Tinkerbell offers a twee and sweet blend of adventure and mini-game action. It's not earth-shattering stuff, but it does work very well with its intended audience of pre-teen girls.

It's essentially a point and click adventure game of a very easy and laid back style, peppered with intermittent "tinkering" mini-games. Tinkerbell herself moves around the screen by directly tapping on locations, or sliding around the stylus if you want to explore an area more widely. It's a smooth enough mechanic that's oddly relaxing.

Tinkerbell spends a lot of gameplay time chatting to all the other fairies as you complete odd jobs for them. There's a moderate amount of text in the game, so early readers may struggle a bit — either that, or parents will have to put up with the sickly sweet repeated tunes that burble out of the DS with alarming monotony. There's a lot of going back and forth in-between the same areas as Tinkerbell works diligently to keep everybody happy, and more experienced gamers may find these sections — which make up the bulk of the game — a touch mundane and repetitive.

Tinkerbell isn't just a chatty little flyer, however. As a tinker, Tinkerbell is tasked with a variety of what are essentially mini-games based around the idea of cleaning up and fixing up items needed for the preparation of each season, as well as interacting with her environment, including playing with ladybugs and silkworms. You'll still spend more time on the cleaning jobs, though. Variously, you'll clean items by scrubbing the display with a stylus or repair cracks by blowing into the DS microphone. The mini-games are moderately easy but do a reasonable job of conveying the task at hand, although we could wish for more variety.

We never pictured Tinkerbell in a power suit, but plenty of dress options are available. (Credit: CNET)

As you complete tasks, the seasons change and new costumes are unveiled for Tinkerbell to wear. On one hand, it's hardly Animal Crossing, but on the other hand, millions have been made by selling little girls dolls and changes of clothes for them, so perhaps Disney's on to some canny marketing here.

Aside from the season-changing storyline mode, players can also opt to have their fortune read from Tinkerbell's mystic pot, or send a fortune to a DS console. It's a moderately daft idea, although adults we encountered were somewhat amused by the fact that Tinkerbell kept insisting that an adult player's "lucky" colour for just about any given day was black. Read into that what you will.

As with a lot of children's games, playing it through with an adult gamer's mindset is a quick route to insanity, so having sorted out the basics, we handed it over to a seven-year-old to play to get impressions. We still haven't managed to wrest the DS from her grasp. This does make it rather clear that, while it's clearly not the greatest DS game ever produced (or anything of the sort), it hits its target market pretty squarely between the eyes and refuses to let go. Undoubtedly, there are better games of this sort — obsessive fashionistas would definitely do better with the aforementioned Animal Crossing: Wild World, for example — but as an idle distraction sort of game aimed at a very precise demographic, Tinkerbell seems to hit all the right notes.