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Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer
Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Southpeak Interactive
Developer: VIS entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Like everything else in Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer, the graphics aren't top notch, but they aren't bad either. Brave doesn't seem to be trying to win any visual awards, but the level design and stylized characters do a fair job of giving this game its own feel.

The more interesting visual style of The Search for Spirit Dancer are in the characters and animals themselves. Often times, the humans and humanoid models seen in this game are depicted with large hands and feet as well as noticeably dis-proportioned heads. This was an interesting take to go with for this game, and gave the title a very cartooney feel.

As for the game's audio, the voice acting was okay and typically ranged between phoned-in and mostly interested in the story. I've heard stiffer acting in the past and considering the mid-range price tag, it isn't all that bad. I do have to say that I enjoyed the soothing background music prevalent in this game. It was very relaxing and seemed to pick up at just the right moments.

Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer is the story of the young shaman-in-training, Brave, and his journey to look for a long lost mystic named Spirit Dancer. Brave is on his quest because an ancient evil has fallen upon his tribe, an evil named Wendigo, and Spirit Dancer is the only person who can stop him.

As Brave's quest grows, he will learn lots of skills that are befitting any Native American (well, any one that appears in a videogame, of course). He will learn to track animals, mimic or transform into animals and an ability called Shaman Sight (which allows him to see spirit guides and other mystic creatures).

At its heart, Brave is an action/adventure title similar to Zelda. You will run around levels killing off enemies of various types and solving fairly simple puzzles. Where Brave tries to shake things up a bit is with some of the more non-standard gameplay levels. These are events where you will have to run towards the screen away from a rampaging herd, or race down some white water rapids in a canoe. These changes in the game's pattern keep it from getting boring, but ultimately, there isn't enough variation in even these levels to keep the game from eventually feeling repetitive.

Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer is an easy, quick romp through the woods. It starts off slow with several tutorial-like levels to get you used to the various skills that Brave must use in his adventure. Even once you leave those first tasks, the game is still a breeze.

Though you will have several objectives in each level, you will never find yourself wondering exactly what you should do, or where you should go, since the objective is clearly marked on your map. Of course, the fact that the levels themselves are very linear and hard to get turned around in doesn't help that fact either.

It seems like younger gamers are the target audience with this title. So I would bet that people who haven't had quite the amount of gaming experience as your average 16 to 25 year old will find the game a bit more challenging and will be glad for the clear direction it gives you.

Game Mechanics:
One of Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer's more interesting twists is Brave's ability to mimic animals. This is a power that he slowly develops throughout the game. It starts off with the ability to make bird calls and summon animals to get him past obstacles. This ability eventually grows to allow him to completely transform into animals, which is especially helpful when in some of the bigger fights of the game.

Though Brave doesn't really introduce anything new to the genre, what it has is fun and enjoyable. The game isn't difficult, which leads me to believe it is geared more towards the younger gamer crowd, and it seems to fit very nicely in that niche. I can't say The Search for Spirit Dancer is a must have, but it is definitely worth a rental. Just make sure you get past the first few tutorial levels before you completely count this game out.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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