Paw Patrol: On A Roll (Xbox One) Review
Great for the youngest gamers
Simple gameplay and colorful visuals
Lots to collect with positive reinforcement with no way to lose
Repetitive and helper narrator kid talks too much
Might not hold interest for players over seven
Puppy Rescue Heroes
Designed for pre-schoolers who are fans of the Nickelodeon TV show, Paw Patrol: On a Roll is a licensed game parents will probably buy for their youngster regardless. Luckily, what’s here is something any four or five year old, beginning gamers, will enjoy.
If I had to summarize Paw Patrol in one word, it would be “simple.” Gameplay, progression, the controls, and level design are all simple and straightforward, something that a gamer of any age should be easily be able to understand. At its core, this is an easy-going platformer with an occasional puzzle or action element to solve. Using little more than the analog stick to move and the “A” button to jump, children with small hands shouldn’t have any issue playing this game as gameplay is never demanding. In fact, there is no way to “die” or get “game over.” In the few instances where the game wants you to hit the “X” or “B” buttons, there is no penalty for hitting the wrong button and the game stays put until the correct button is tapped. There are also no pits or hazards to avoid; the player essentially just double jumps their way through each stage.
Each stage has a couple hundred puppy treats and a handful of golden paw icons to optionally collect. However, the word “optionally” is used loosely here as it is actually more difficult to avoid collecting these icons than it is to collect them as they are usually right in the sole walking path. Along the way, the little boy narrator speaks to the player, providing hints and encouragement. Personally, I thought he was more annoying than Fi from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword but speaking constantly help should be a welcoming feature for the youngest of players. Besides platforming, the player will be tasked with action segments or uncomplicated puzzles to break up the monotony of collecting the puppy treats such as moving the flying dog up and down during a flight segment or putting pieces of a puzzle together like the board game Concentration. These portions of the game are simple enough for preschoolers to solve while providing something new about gameplay. However, the few underwater segments have some terribly floaty and unresponsive controls.
In total, there are 16 rescue missions (levels) and 8 puppies to control. However, the game decides which puppies to partake in each mission; there is no player select screen. Before each mission, the player is shown what needs to happen to rescue that level’s stranded animal. For example, the bulldozer dog needs to be summoned when a pile of rocks needs to be moved and the builder dog can use scrap to build a bridge to reach the other side. Then, the dog with the water pack will fill the pond at the end of the stage to rescue the stuck ducks. Again, this is very simple and there is no way to lose so there really isn’t anything to get frustrated about. Visually, while not as brightly colored as a Mario game, each stage is appealing with vivid 3D models and environments. While I have never seen an episode of the cartoon, everything here looks like your favorite Pixar movie.
If I was looking at this game like a non-kids retail release, the repetition would be enough to keep any player away. Each stage is essentially the same – just double jump your way over crate after crate until you reach the end. Assets are reused, especially in the background and the one hand flinging animation of the narrator boy. Each stage forces the player to press “A” and pull back on a rope to open a door which is a major repetitive chore and the underwater segments are the absolute worst as they control just as well as your puppy’s morning relief. The lack of a multiplayer option is also a head scratcher as parents or young friends might want to play together. Also, the cutscenes are also not skippable the first time you see them. However, I was easily able to unlock all 1000 Xbox Gamerscore in just a couple hours so achievement junkies might want to check this out.
To be fair, I am not going to give this game an official score as it has a very specific target demographic. But in terms of a kid’s game, this a friendly and rewarding experience for any young gamer and I would give it an 8/10 in terms of child-based “E for everyone” games. The game holds the hand of the player throughout the entire experience, there is no way to lose, and the game even rewards the player with easy Achievements/Trophies (if playing on Xbox One or PS4) and numerous badges that are viewable on the main menu. Plus, there are puppies that act as first responders! I mean, come on!
While I think the $40 price tag is a little high, the licensees need their paycheck after all, parents can purchase this game with confidence that their kid will enjoy it for the few hours it takes to finish it.
Also available on PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch
Also Try: the Kids option on Netflix
Better Than: Disney Princesses (GBA)
Wait For It: a Paw Patrol movie