HERCULES ANIMATED STORYBOOK, Disney Interactive
What: Inevitable Disney multimedia repurposing.
Details: Finally, a spinoff in perfect alignment with the product it supports - both the movie and the CD-ROM are ignorable, formulaic concoctions that show similar disrespect for their source material. The disc follows the basic animated storybook format: successive panels read the story aloud and present a number of "clickables" that animate when selected by the user. (This time, however, there's less text to read than in previous storybooks.)
Much of the narrative is delivered via clunky multi-paneled clickable friezes and three well-delivered, though highly edited, songs from the movie. Along the way there are a few simple, too-familiar games: matching (Hydra heads), an animated maze (to scale Mount Olympus), a challengeless find-the-constellation-in-the-stars too reminiscent of a similar feature in the Lion King disc and, oddly, checkers (a simplified version of Hades' strategic war model for cosmic domination). It should come as no surprise that my kids, 7 and 51/2 , who saw the Hercules movie and pronounced it "OK," blew past everything but the checker game. This they seemed to enjoy.
Bottom line: Trying to "improve" a classic, be it a timeless myth or a board game, is a fool's errand.
- Craig Stoltz