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Hans Christian Andersen: The Ugly Prince Duckling

Hans Christian Andersen: The Ugly Prince Duckling

There is little chance that any child has grown up without being familiar with at least one story written by Hans Christian Andersen. One of the greatest fairy tale writers – born in 1805 – his stories have managed to entertain and teach kids for over two centuries.


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There is little chance that any child has grown up without being familiar with at least one story written by Hans Christian Andersen.  One of the greatest fairy tale writers – born in 1805 – his stories have managed to entertain and teach kids for over two centuries.   What child has never heard of The Ugly Duckling or The Little Mermaid, made even more famous for a new generation by the excellent Disney adaptations?  Or the touching and sad stories of the Snow Queen or Tinderbox? Hans Christian Andersen’s works, provide children with the truisms of life, even if it is accomplished through a fairy tale.

I must admit, I’ve been a lifelong fan of his work, ever since my grandfather read me the Snow Queen. And still to this day, I consider him to be one of the top fairy tale writers, in par with Grimm Brothers.  So… when I heard that an adventure game was in the making, I must say I got really excited and my hopes went up.  So, were my expectations justified?   Well, let’s journey to the world of Hans Christian Andersen and find out together.

Story – Atmosphere

In this game, you take on the role of Hans Christian Andersen.  A poor boy in his real life, this is a fairy tale adaptation of what he had to go through in order to climb to high society.  In the game, you start at the gates of Copenhagen, Denmark where you have just arrived in search of fame and fortune.  But none want to help you.  In the meantime, the spoiled princess (is there any other kind?) of the castle decides she wants to go out amongst the people and learn about her city.  Problems quickly arise when a magic tinderbox (yes, hold that thought!) falls into the wrong hands.  Darkness starts to cover the city, goblins roam the street and you have to save the princess.  Clichéd?  Perhaps, but this is fairytale story.  And about the author who first wrote these stories which we find today cliché, but were original for their time.  During your adventure –  which develops gradually over 5 chapters – you will meet many of the characters from HCA’s stories like the little mermaid, the Swineherd, the tailor from The Emperor’s New Clothes, the little match girl and many more!  Sometimes you help them, sometimes they help you!  All in all, it’s a really charming story that offers a great deal of content to everyone.

Story: B
Atmosphere: A-

Graphics and Sound

There is only one word I can say regarding the graphics department – WHOA!  They are amazing!  The locations are so beautifully drawn that you really feel as though you have been transported inside a fairy tale. Not many games ever manage to do that.  The character models are finely designed to fit the persona of each person and their animation is superb. The lack of high profile lighting and super effects isn’t noticeable at all since this is something you would normally not expect in an adventure game. 

The background music is mostly written by the famous Norwegian composer Grieg (btw, I think his name means “War” in German! Just a fun fact!) and fits the game superbly.  The voice acting is high quality and was done by industry professionals.  The only problem I encountered is occasional off-kilter lip-syncing which unfortunately distracts some from the overall experience.

Graphics: A-
Sound: B+


So far, we’ve discussed some superb graphics, a charming story, beautiful feeling and wondrous music.  So is this game perfect?  I’m sorry to say, but it is not.  The gameplay is a fairly simple point-n-click affair.  You move the character with the mouse (you can also move him by using the keyboard) and you click on items or people to interact with them.  Also, there are some coins hidden here and there that help you build a bankroll, even though they are eventually useless as you are awarded all the money you need after completing a quest.

The controls are some of the worst ever encountered in a point-n-click adventure game.  They are utterly unresponsive and force you into unnecessary pixel hunting.  Worst of all though, path finding is disastrous!  It will take you a few hours to learn some tricks to overcome the bugs and glitches in path finding and by then the wonderful game experience has disintegrated somewhat. 

Another problem is the length of the game.  It could easily have been published online since an average adventurer can finish it in 5 hours (and probably 3-4 if the controls were more responsive). 

Gameplay: E


Even if the game is a bit frustrating due to the controls, it is still a great homage to Hans Christian Andersen. Featuring well thought-out jokes, great music, rich environments and a classic storyline it offers quality time for both adventurer and young gamers alike.  The Ugly Prince Duckling is one game you must play with younger children and – if you are still in touch with your inner child – you will enjoy it just as much.  You will be enchanted.

Final Grade: B-

System Requirements:

  • OS: Windows® 2000/XP/Vista™
  • CPU: 1.6 GHz Pentium® 4 Processor or AMD Sempron 2800+
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Disk Space: 1.4 GB Available
  • CD/DVD-ROM: 8x or Higher
  • DirectX®: Version 9.0c Required (Included)
  • Video Card: 128 MB RAM Compatible Video Card
  • Sound: 16-bit DirectX® 9.0c Compatible Sound Card
  • Input: Keyboard, Mouse

Alek Michalitsianos

Alek Michalitsianos

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