Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events Review

Developer: Adrenium Games Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 9, 2004 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

The most unfortunate thing about Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is that it was developed in the first place. Activision released in the fall of 2004 a game for one of the least appealing movie properties, a game with a more depressing storyline than 30 minutes of the Evening News – or even worse, MTV. This is one children’s game that should have a ‘keep out of reach of children’ label on it.

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In Lemony Snicket, you assume the role of the Baudelaire children; Violet an adolescent female, Sunny the baby (the only sun you’ll find in the game), and Klaus (Violet and Sunny’s brother). The three are orphans after their parents die, left to a man interested in inheriting their fortune. Count Olaf (voiced by Jim Carrey), the villain, will stop at nothing to wreck the lives of the children. Your goal is to escape, but when you do, Olaf vows to find you, wherever and however hard.

The graphics in the game are handled competently enough. The character models are a bit weak, but the locations are detailed, with fully furnished rooms. You’ll start in Olaf’s estate, a justice’s library, an uncle’s home (who happens to have interest in exotic animals and plants), a sea port town, a house ravaged by a hurricane, etc. So basically, the exploits of the series are followed. The biggest problem I encountered was invisible walls.

There’s only one game mode to speak of, the story. The story is told through artistic cut-scenes, where a narrator tells the story and the characters act the scenes. This is all fine and good, but the structure that is a storyline does nothing but fill time between what the game is: collect x items to create an invention. The neglected children are constantly devising plans for escape from the grips of Olaf with these inventions.

The problem with the invention-creation idea is, the three, four or however many items that you need are all found within a minute’s search. Most of the time, you’ll find two or more items in one room or hallway. I can understand that the developers were trying to meet the needs of an intended younger audience, but I don’t see what kids would want to play a game with such a morbid plot – and I don’t see how clueless they are to need all the items in a single room. This game’s a real insult to the intelligence of younger gamers. Constant death and misery await around every corner, for the gamer as much as the characters in the story.

At any rate, the inventions that are used vary from a punching bag for Kraus to KO rats and toads, a food shooter for Violet to eliminate vermin such as spiders, a vacuum bag attachment to suck up loose snakes, a rocket pack for Sunny in her traditional side-to-side platforming levels, etc. They’ll also serve the purpose of defeating bosses. Unfortunately, we find ourselves with incompetent bosses who have an easily predictable pattern, if not a single means of attack.

Like most platformers, you have the option of collecting puzzle pieces for hidden extras. For whatever reason (probably boredom), I decided to collect most of them. All that’s unlocked are photographs and short cut-scenes. Being that the single-player story (the only mode) takes between four and six hours long, depending largely on if you collect everything or not, there’s no reason, whatsoever, to come back to this game.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is an example of what can go horribly wrong when developers decide to take a lazy route of rehashing boss fights, game concepts, and collecting in the same game. The Time Crisis-like mini-game later on at the harbor town and other moderately well-done elements can’t salvage what can be described as nothing short of an enormous letdown.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 3
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 3
Final: 4.7
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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