While fans of the TV show can appreciate this title, I feel that this is one Leapster game that lacks in quality and quantity.
Right off the bat, this title only contains about four mini games. This lower number might not have been a problem if each game contained a fair amount of quality. Due to unresponsive play control and unclear instructions, I can foresee players becoming frustrated with this title…a major problem when considering this is supposed to a be a friendly game that can hold a child’s attention.
First, I have some problems with the “gliding down the banister” mini game. Here, the player controls Bloo, a blue ghost/blob creature. The goal of the game is to collect letters as gravity pushes you down a railing. But due to unresponsive play control and font issues, this game is more frustrating that fun. In one instance, the narrator told me to collect the letter “j” but I ran into the “l” because it was placed right against the railing, causing it to look just like an “l.” Perhaps this could have been avoided if capital letters or a different font was used. This was the same story for the letters “a” and “d” as both characters look very similar. Also, the narrator told me to find the letter “m” but I thought he said “n,” so again I grabbed the wrong letter due to a lacking presentation.
If the unclear instructions were not enough, the player can also touch letters unintentionally due to the game’s 2D graphics. When gliding down the railing, the player can jump, duck, or speed up. But there were many times that I thought I was going to run directly into the correct letter, only to have it fly right over my head or vice versa. Because the railing itself is placed at an awkward angle, all incoming letters follow this same funky pattern.
Besides this lacking railing game, this title suffers from some major loading issues. More often that not, a loading screen will pop up for more than several seconds. Coming from a cartridge based medium, this almost seems inexcusable, especially when trying to capture a young child’s attention. However, before each mini game starts, the player is treated to a cut scene that tells a brief story. This gives the game a more cartoon-like experience and is probably the cause for the longer load times.
From time to the time, the narrator will speak something in an unclear fashion- such as the “m” versus “n” incident. There is also a lag in speech when the characters converse before each mini game takes place. One of the characters will say something along the lines of “I’m trying to help out BigBaby,” but the word “BigBaby” will be spoken with some lag and inconsistency. This is because this one word gets swapped out with another name as the game goes on. While this isn’t going to really hinder gameplay, it is still a minor flaw. I understand that I am a much older and mature gamer, so perhaps I am looking into things like this a little too seriously.
The railing mini game is not the only poorly executed game in this title. When playing the Search For Silent letters mini game, the controls are also very unresponsive and inaccurate. Taking place from an overhead type view, the player walks around and collects specific letters. However, walking around – a very simple task, is overly complicated. In order to walk up and to the right, the player needs to hold Up on the D-pad, then let go, then hold down Right on the D-pad all with about a one second pause in-between. Why can’t this be more fluid? Why add an extra step to walking around? And I don’t think this is a limitation of the Leapster hardware as other games have been more fluid.
Because this game focuses on imaginary friends, the target audience for this title is K-2nd graders, and I couldn’t agree more. Older gamers would most definitely be out of the imaginary friend stage in their life. This game does have potential to help kids learn, but there are many other Leapster titles out there that do a better job. Because of the inaccurate play control and misleading voice narration, there will probably be more confusion when playing this game than there needs to be. If your little one is a major fan of the cartoon, you might want to pick it up. However, I recommend Batman or Creature Create instead.