There's a newer Wonderland in town, rounding out the 3D action-puzzle series by Midnight Synergy. Our previous review in this series was the well-received Wonderland Secret Worlds, in which a storm rolled through and blew all the little Stinkers away. In Wonderland Adventures, you fill the shoes of the hero once more, this time trying to save the entire Wonderland realm, which is being threatened by a dark, matter-destroying void.
If you've played any of the earlier Wonderland games, you'll be met with the familiar grid-based movement system as in previous versions, but with a much-needed graphics overhaul this time around. The 3D modeling and rendering showcase a considerable upgrade with a gorgeous and colorful world to explore. In fact, a small part of what makes Wonderland Adventures such an enjoyable game is experiencing the new landscapes and scenery as you progress through the levels.
Wonderland Adventures is a top-down (more like 45 degrees) action-puzzle game with subtle RPG elements. Whether you've played earlier games in the series, most casual gamers will be instantly familiar with the lever-pushing, block-moving, key-placing aspects of this game. Don't let that fool you into thinking that this is just another action-puzzle clone though. Wonderland Adventures offers a respectable array of new concepts and game mechanics that are entirely unique.
You begin your journey in Wonderland with a few tutorial stages where you learn to control your Stinker (yes, that's what the citizens of this Wonderland are called). Controls are as simple as moving your mouse and clicking where you want to go, or you can opt to use your keyboard in tandem. You'll be met with initial tasks like standing on switches to raise bridges, stepping on colored tiles to activate platforms...the usual. But once you've gone through the obligatory motions to learn your way around, you're thrown into the heart of the game rather quickly. Your first quest is to save some little Stinkers who've been trapped by a cave-in. Once you gather the little tykes up, you'll have to take control of them to help you make it through the cave. For example, you can grab one of your little pals and make him stand on a certain pressure-sensitive platform to raise a bridge so you can reach a lever. This is just a tiny example of the unique gameplay mechanics you'll be offered as you explore Wonderland.
In later stages as you make your way toward the main town, you'll learn that there's a dark magic beginning to rip Wonderland apart. You'll come across fellow Stinkers who you can interact with, some of which you can chat up for info and others that give you missions, which is where the subtle RPG elements come into play. It's this mixture of genres that makes Wonderland Adventures so entertaining; you're never confined to a particular task for so long as to make it repetitive. There's always something new just around the corner.
You also have magic at your fingertips to help you along the way. As your journey progresses, you'll acquire a host of magical artifacts that help you solve puzzles in interesting ways, such as a pair of gloves that grants you the gift of teleportation. You can collect coins and gems along the way, the former of which you can use to buy useful items in town, and the latter to beef up your score.
Analysis: Wonderland Adventures is without a doubt the best of the Wonderland series so far. Even on its own, it stands as one of the most enjoyable and well-polished action-puzzle games to hit the scene. The developers did a wonderful job with the 3D graphics this time around, a huge step up from even the most recent in the series. The musical score parallels the cute, whimsical nature of the game, never overpowering yet fitting for each environment you stumble into. As mentioned, controls couldn't be simpler; just a click of the mouse to move from A to B, or you can hold down the mouse button to continue following the pointer, a convenient feature for traversing longer distances.
Although Wonderland Adventures epitomizes an all-ages "cute and cuddly" adventure game, it shouldn't be dismissed as a kids-only game. While it makes a great educational and problem-solving game for children, it also offers its share of head-scratchers for adults. Even if you're a veteran of this genre, it's not a game you can blow through quickly without having a few do-overs. You'll encounter puzzles you've never seen, enemies you've never imagined and an environment that's enticingly unfamiliar. Over a hundred levels are featured with dozens of characters to interact with, a solid storyline and unique, non-repetitive environments to explore. Unless you're a long-haired, sleeveless death-metal fan with an flaming pentagram tattooed on your back, don't dismiss Wonderland Adventures as a simple kiddie game. If you're a fan of any of the above-mentioned genres, give it a whirl for an hour or so and you just might find yourself immersed in your latest gaming addiction.