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Babysitting Mama was a game my daughter had been nagging for for a little while, thanks to all that targeted pre christmas advertising . It's the latest in the 'Mama' series of games, with previous titles incliding cooking mama, cooking mama 2, and gardening mama. However, Babysitting Mama has one sligt difference - as well as the game disk, you also need a plush baby doll to play.
And this doll is the source of some difficultly when it comes to the game set up - as well as inserting the disk in the standard manner, you also have to insert the wii remote into the back of the doll. This isn't the easiest thing to do, as the space is quite tight, not to mention that you also need the nunchuck connected too, so trying to avoid bending or trapping wires, whilst fitting the wii remote securely AND making sure you leave the sensor poking out is just a bit of a pain in the bum, and certainly too difficult for my daughter to do alone.
You start the game with one baby, Yuto, and your task is to help mama look after him properly, using both the baby and the nunchuck remote. As Mama completes a series of simple tasks, your job is to emulate her movements, doing exactly as she says and being careful to not shake the baby . As each task is completed, either by filling the babies emotion bar, or by timing out, you are awarded a coloured medal, either bronze, silver, or gold according to how well you have performed. After completing 4 activity stages, your score will be tallied up and you'll be either praised or consoled . Good performance unlocks more babies to care for (there are 5 in total), more game activities, and a selection of photos .
All this sounds incredibly simple, right ? In theory, it is, but in a reality a small child will struggle with having two controllers in operation at once, especially as the baby (which to be fair is well made, and pretty cute) is quite the little chubster and takes up a fair bit of space. Plus, he needs to be held in pretty precise positions in order to complete the game stages, and you lose points for not moving or holding the doll correctly, or for not being exactly in time . Add to that that the people behind the game have seen fit to use the speaker in the wii remote to make the doll laugh and cry ( the sounds being indistinguishable from each other, with the screen being the only way to tell how the brat was feeling) and the game gets old pretty fast . Never mind the near constant warnings to not shake the baby - after enduring my daughter playing this for an hour ( with constant complaint about it being too tricky) I was ready to drop kick the little demon across the room .
There are some good little mini tasks in the game though - feeding the baby, whilst moving the plate around to avoid tantrums and mess, changing it's nappy, playing with newspapers. The thing is though, while there are lots of little tasks, some of them are almost identical to others. In one game, for example, I have to move the baby from side to side to simulate rocking a cradle, and in another, up and down to simulate playing. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the game requires ninja like precision timing in order to accumulate a score.
The graphics are nice- simple and colourful, and really quite appealing. Text on screen is easy to read, and the scoring system is easy to understand . The diagrams accompanying the tasks could be clearer though, and some tasks only require one controller, but don't tell you until you've started so you're left holding the baby pointlessly the entire time . And the stuff mama says - well, it gets very repetitive. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard 'Pat, pat, soothe the baby'. It gets repetitive - and I'm starting to hear it in my dreams .
Sadly, instead of my daughter being filled with maternal love by this game, she seems to have developed post natal depression - she swiftly lost interest in the game because of the absurd difficulty of some of the levels, and merely plays with the cuddly doll part now . At 39.99, this game is an expensive gimmick, and I think parents would be better off spending the money on a tiny tears, or some other less annoying toy .