Through The Looking Glass of Wonderland Video Games
As the Royal Scholar of Wonderland, I, Bibwit Harte am tasked with peering through the Pool of Tears to see the myriad of creations inspired by Wonderland. From Lewis Carroll’s fanciful novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass first published in 1865, to the 1951 animated movie Alice in Wonderland from Disney to the very accurate 2006 New York Times best-selling series The Looking Glass Wars with Princess Alyss by Frank Beddor. Today I am investigating a most curious form of entertainment… the “video game.”
“Video” from the root “vide” of the Latin “video,” meaning “I see.” What one sees when one plays a video game is a box filled with a sort of Power of Imagination that creates an illusionary world. This world can only be viewed through a portal. Usually, a screen or glass… not unlike a Looking Glass. (Hmmm.)
With its Looking Glass-esque visuals, it is not surprising that there have been several video games inspired by the wonders of Wonderland. Here is a brief list for you to peruse…
TINY TINA’S WONDERLAND (2022) – I begin with the most recent entry on our list. Tiny Tina’s Wonderland has just arrived and is proving to be very popular. Though its connections to Princess Alyss Heart and the true Wonderland are tenuous at best, it is certainly a showcase for the Power of Imagination!
An amusing, action packed adventure that showcases magic, mayhem and even a powerful Queen. Although the Queen in question is a jeweled rainbow unicorn, I am sure Queen Genevieve (The White Queen) would approve of her regal power.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010 Disney Live Action) – Before the latest Wonderland adventure, one must peer through the Pool of Tears to the distant past of 2010 (in earth years) to see another Alyss oriented video game.
Alice in Wonderland (inspired by the Disney live action movie) allows players to guide, protect and aid Alice as she journeys through the world of Wonderland while unraveling the game’s many twisted mysteries. Along the way, players call on a diverse and unique cast of characters such as the Mad Hatter (inspired by the heroic Hatter Madigan) and Cheshire Cat (inspired by the villainous Cat) who each have unique abilities to help evade traps and solve challenging puzzles.
ALICE IN THE COUNTRY OF THE HEARTS (2007) – This is a Japanese visual novel game developed by Quin Rose. The game is a re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s classic 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (which was, of course, a rather loose re-imagining of the actual Wonderland.) There are multiple sequel games, as well as multiple manga series, multiple anime cartoons and even some animated films. This game leans into the aspects of love and romance. A true Game of Hearts, if you will…
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Disney Animated 2000) Another game inspired by a Disney film. This time the 1951 animated Disney film. The game begins with the player as Alice following the White Rabbit (March Hare) down its hole. The plot is used to change the level design from stage to stage and gives the player a more varied experience through gameplay. The game changes the level design based on different stages from the film and Alice changes sizes throughout the game to help her find her way through various puzzles.
Though* this game did not receive the most glowing reviews, I include it because the central figure (aside from Alice/Alyss) is the White Rabbit, a character that is apparently based on yours truly, Bibwit Harte! Dear reader, I must confess that I find this rabbit chap to be rather annoying. He shares my speed, but, alas, lacks my sophistication.
AMERICAN MCGEE’S ALICE (2000) The same year that the whimsical Disney inspired Alice in Wonderland arrived, another very different game premiered. American McGee’s Alice is a third-person action-adventure video game developed by Rogue Entertainment under the direction of designer American McGee.
The game presents a gloomy, cruel and violent version of the World of Wonderland. The game centers on the Lewis Carroll novels’ protagonist Alice, whose family is killed in a house fire years before the story of the game takes place. After several years of treatment in a psychiatric clinic, the emotionally traumatized Alice makes a mental retreat to Wonderland, which has been disfigured by her injured psyche.
ALICE: MADNESS RETURNS (2011) is the sequel America McGee’s Alice. Alice: Madness Returns follows Alice Liddell, a girl suffering from trauma caused by the death of her family in a fire. Alice was discharged from a psychiatric clinic and now lives in an orphanage for mentally traumatized orphans under the care of Dr. Angus Bumby.
To heal the trauma and learn the truth about her past, she once again falls into this dark and deadly version of Wonderland, where a new evil force has corrupted it. Such dreadful scenes are most certainly the product of Dark Imagination! Queen Redd would feel most at home in this world!
Last, though certainly not least, I will mention the “games” connected to Wonderland through more than sheer inspiration! Countless players engaged in the Card Soldier Wars MMO, brought to Earth by Frank Beddor, never suspecting that the mighty battles waged therein were truly tied to the shifts in power back beyond the Looking Glass.
Similarly, The Looking Glass Wars TCG (set to be re-released in the near future) blends the line between physicality and photons. Hybridizing the living world and the games of our imaginations is an idea that could have no other origin than Wonderland.
This concludes our examination of 21st Century Games inspired by the wonders of Wonderland! Perhaps, if my dear readers are interested, I can examine games from the 20th Century when the artform was new and rather primitive. For now, this is your humble author, Bibwit Harte bidding you farewell and wishing you a most wonder-filled day!