Product Type: Ubisoft Nintendo DS games
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This Little Piggy Went To... Fly A Kite?
Peppa Pig: The Game (DS)
Member Name: Hishyeness
Peppa Pig: The Game (DS)
Date: 19/08/09, updated on 19/08/09 (237 review reads)
Advantages: Instantly recognisable look and feel for young Peppa fans.
Disadvantages: Limited re-playability. Some fiddly bits.
The Nintendo DS appeals to kids and adults alike because of its portability, ease of use, and interactivity. However, one of the most frustrating aspects of buying a DS game for young children is that there is very little decent information available about such titles. In these financially conscious times, most parents will think twice about shelling out typically £15 to £30 for a game without knowing something about it.
Most gamers would never go near titles such as "Barbie Princess" or "Littlest Pet Shop" which means, apart from the odd newspaper or magazine review, the only source of information comes from reviews by parents themselves. Obviously, we can only guesstimate what our kids will like, so its left to me to be as objective as possible, with the necessary limitation that I'm seeing things through the eyes of an adult.
A BIT ABOUT PEPPA
Peppa is an anthropomorphic girl pig with her own animated series that airs daily on Channel Five and Nick Jr. Each five minute episode is aimed squarely at the pre-school market, and like all "good" kids TV franchises, Peppa has spawned a cornucopia of merchandising running the gamut from plush dolls, DVD's, toys, games to the now inevitable character tie-in computer game.
Peppa is something of a bossy boots and has a veritable menagerie of friends with alliterative names (Danny Dog, Zoe Zebra, Rebecca Rabbit etc.). She lives with her Mummy and Daddy and baby brother George in a house on top of a hill. My daughter and her friends are quite taken with her, so when I saw this DS game on sale at Amazon for £11.99, I thought it would be a brilliant way to keep my daughter entertained on car journeys.
The "game" is actually a series of eleven separate interactive activities, including colouring in, dressing up, playing hide and seek, memory and counting, as well as other simple to play games - each of which is presented with the recognisable Peppa Pig animation and character voices. On most of the games, you can choose "free play", or the more challenging option of a "timed" game. Playing and achieving a certain aptitude unlocks additional content, giving kids a palpable sense of achievement and reward.
You can play either as Peppa or baby brother George, but game play does not differ depending on the character. It's only function appears to be to allow boys to play as a boy and girls to play as a girl. There is a difficulty setting in the options, allowing the game to be customised for varying age groups (easy, medium, and hard).
The game includes a very helpful instruction booklet which I would encourage parents to read, as it:
(a) explains the controls for each mini-game (some are not that intuitive);
(b) summarises the "educational" benefits of each; and
(c) outlines each of the rewards a child is capable of achieving on each game and what they will unlock by doing so.
The latter is particularly thoughtful and useful.
Once you get past the title screens, the instantly recognisable theme music pipes up and you are presented with three save slots (allowing more than one child to play and save progress). You fill in your name using the touch screen "keyboard", choose your character and segue into a very busy interactive and animated main menu.
There are four areas to explore, and touching one on screen takes you to a sub-menu where you pick the game you want to play. Each game is prefaced by verbal and pictorial instructions which are intuitive and easy to follow.
Following is a brief description of some of the mini-games:
> Muddy Puddles
Tap on the muddy puddles that appear to make George and Peppa jump into them. If you do nothing, they jump anyway, by you are told off for being too slow and encouraged to try again. Jump into as many as possible during the time limit. A decent total earns a robust and cheery "Well done!" from the narrator. Strangely and hypnotically addictive.
The interactive screen gives you three variable icons. The first is a Peppa character, the second a pictorial representation of an adjective, and the third an object. You choose the variables, touch the Polly Parrot icon, and she repeats them back to you (ex. George + silly hat + monkey = "George is a silly monkey"). It's entertaining in a very juvenile and silly way, and my daughter gets a lot of amusement value from it - although it has started to annoy me a bit as she is now using it to insult me in ever more creative ways ("Daddy is a happy banana"?!).
Choose from eight pictures and use a palette of around 15 colours by tapping on it with your stylus and then using it to "colour" the picture. It's not like "real" colouring in - the stylus isn't used as a pencil or brush - instead you colour whole areas by tapping that area with the stylus. The smaller areas are quite fiddly for little fingers. Progress can be saved and a separate "Picture Viewer" function allows you to see the pictures you have coloured in.
> Hide and Seek
Find your hiding sibling as many times as possible by tapping the red glowing dots in each room of the house. Once you find them, they flee to another room and you do it over again as many times as possible within the time limit. It's not entirely obvious at first that you have to tap the inanimate door to move to another room - something that really frustrated my daughter no end. It would have helped to have either animated the door, or highlighted it in some way as a visual clue to the player.
You pour the pancake mixture by moving the mixing bowl over the frying pan, and then flip the pancakes three times by moving the pan up and down and catching the pancakes as they come down. You have to try and get as many as possible within a time limit (if you choose that mode). My daughter found the action of pouring the mix frustratingly fiddly and imprecise at times, although she did have fun with it once she got the hang of it.
> Kite Flying
You choose a kite shape and have to fly it while avoiding the raindrops falling down from the clouds on the top screen. The raindrops come more rapidly the deeper into the time period you get. More kites are unlocked as you play and achieve better scores. Quite simple, easy and intuitive to play and well realised.
Also included are:
(a) Burst the Bubbles - Pop the bubbles as George and Peppa are taking a bath;
(b) Snowman - Make a snowman and dress him up in various outfits;
(c) Car Wash - Soap up the mud on Daddy's car with the sponge, and then use the spray nozzle to wash it all off;
(d) Car Trip - A simple memory game where a series of coloured buttons on the bottom screen flash in sequence, and the player has to repeat them in the right order; and
(e) Happy Mrs Chicken - A rather limited game in which you tap Mrs Chicken, she makes a noise and lays an eggs (corresponding with how many times you poked the poor hen). The eggs hatch, the chicks leave. That's it. A bit pointless really.
The intro screens, when you first turn on the game take at least 30 seconds to cycle through, and tested my patience - never mind that of a four year old. Game play throughout is simple, accessible and perfectly suited for its intended audience (pre-school girls). It makes good use of the Nintendo DS' interactive touch screen.
However, some games have very limited replay value and can be fiddly in parts. My intention was to use this as a substitute babysitter, but my daughter, who is not easily frustrated, does not like to play it without adult help, so its kind of defeated the purpose of buying it.
Once the novelty of having a Peppa game wore off, she didn't come back to it in the same way as she has done with other games of similar ilk (Disney Friends and I Did It Mum 1 & 2 being notable successes). Having tried many of the games myself for this review, I can see why - even from a subjective adult point of view.
I normally take a somewhat cynical view of games like this that try to disguise blatant merchandising with claims of educational value. However, there are some useful learning and developmental benefits. Colouring, hand eye coordination, counting skills, perseverance and decision-making are all encouraged by the mini-games, but to pretend this is the main focus is somewhat disingenuous. Many similar games can claim to do the same thing and actually do it much better.
At just under £12, this game hardly broke the bank. The characters and voice acting are consistent with the Peppa Pig programme and provide an instantly recognisable background to some interesting, diverting yet ultimately average mini-games with limited re-playability.
Suitable for ages three to six (maximum), if your child is a fan, it's not bad, but there is nothing memorable or exceptional about it. Without the character content, I would have given in two stars. That said, it's decent value for money, especially as you can pick it up for less than a tenner on eBay, but otherwise, there's better options available.
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: Lacks staying power once the novelty wears off...