Back when I was in grammar school, we had the Scholastic book club. Even though I hated reading, I always looked forward to browsing the monthly flyer that was sent to each student. Knowing that I would never actually read the books that were available to order, I still wanted them because this brochure was colorful and made reading look fun. As a natural progression, it only makes sense for Scholastic to enter the gaming market as an extension of books. While I Spy: Spooky Mansion isn’t Scholastic’s first gaming title, it acts as an extension of their book publishing background and fits the family friendly Wii atmosphere.
Spooky Mansion is a straight forward Where’s Waldo style game. Broken up into different rooms, the player is tasked with finding certain hidden objects to complete a puzzle using the Wii remote’s IR sensor. Bringing a little bit of literacy to the game, each puzzle is narrated with a rhyming jingle. And parents should not fear the “spooky” part of the game as it is a lighthearted Halloween theme; nothing here should give kids nightmares.
This is exactly the audience for this game – young children. I had a blast with the “search for the items” books many years ago; this is basically the same thing but with a controller. With this said, I am sure children will get a kick out this simple game, especially since parents can join in through multiplayer. However, the gameplay will be much too slow for later grammar schoolers or Jr. High gamers. Four to eight years of age is probably the best target audience.
The game gives the player a list of objects to find in each room. Some objects require nothing more than pointing at the screen with the Wii remote and pushing A, while other objects require the player to complete a mini game. These mini games, which usually involve twisting/flicking/turning the Wii remote might be fun for young gamers, but older gamers will become annoyed by the bland motion control that has been done a million times before.
For a budget Wii game, the game’s graphical and audio presentation really isn’t that bad. The environments are nicely drawn and the narration the main skeleton character suits the game well. It is easy to knock this game for little things, like not offering an inverse look option when using the D-pad to look around or the lack of a mini game only mode or a hint system, but young players will not notice these things.
This game sells for the cheaper $30 price point, but this cost might still seem a little high considering there is an entire library of kid friend games at your local retailer and even on WiiWare. Spooky Mansion doesn’t really have any educational value as opposed to being more of a cash-in the casual game crazy. But it can provide simple and straightforward gameplay for parents to learn how to play Wii with their children.
Better Than: Ordering books you will never read
Also Try: Brain Challenge
Wait For It: Apocalyptic Demon Death 4: The Rapture – the kid friendly Scholastic version
Follow MyGamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mygamernews