Given my personality, you might be surprised when I say I don't play a whole lot of video games targeted for kids around the age of 5 or less. Then again, there don't seem to be a whole lot of those. And then again again, most that I've seen are total crap, mostly in the form of terrible gameplay. Even the graphics are shunned when making a game for small children. But there is at least one game that totally shatters this mold. Obviously you know what I'm talking about, unless you managed to misread both the link and the title. For any of youse who did pull that off, I'm talking about Piglet's Big Game.
Just to clear my name, my youngest brother owns this game, I did not rent or buy it for myself. He wanted me to play with him, and I enjoy playing games, so I couldn't say no. Though since it isn't too bad a game, I guess I really don't have any need to justify my playage of it.
I'll start with the superficial stuff first. In a word, the graphics are beautiful. They are really great, even Luigi's Mansion-esque, if you will. And Luigi's Mansion has some of the best graphics I've ever seen. Back to Piglet, the character models are really nice and literally well rounded. No blocky crap here. The environments are also really nicely done. They all bask in 3D glory, but the way the game is, they probably could have been pre-rendered. More on that in a minute.
The music is there, nothing to be all that proud of, but not something where you'll turn off the volume so you don't have to deal with it. Like with most games and movies, the music is able to set a certain mood, and accompanies each different environment. The voice acting is superb, and I assume that they got the same VAs for the game as they did for the movie (which I've never seen, that's why I'm assuming). But I know the voices of the Winnie the Pooh characters, and if they aren't the same, they sure do a good impression.
The story is based around Piglet helping out his friends. Gee, how could this be any more cliché? There is a twist: he helps them by going into their dreams. He's like the Anti-Freddy. I'm having a hard time deciding if that joke was really funny or really lame. Obviously, each character is represented in his dream world, and they all have their own little problems. I'm sure they could sort things out by themselves, but the dreams have been invaded by heffalumps and woozles. For all you out there who have no clue what I'm talking about, they're elephants and weasels. Scary elephants and weasels. So Piglet beats these guys and helps out his friends. I haven't finished the game, so I don't know how it ends. Sorry. I know you were dying to find out.
As far as gameplay is concerned, the game is pretty solid. It's kind of like a slow paced adventure game. We've got Piglet wandering finding items and beating up enemies. "Beating up" is a bit of a misleading term. He actually scares them out of existence. Yep, Piglet scares scary dream monsters out of existence. No matter how you say it, it can't sound right. But that's how it goes down. Along the way, there are cookies hidden all over the place, and they can be revealed by kicking random and often obvious objects. These cookies are used to "purchase" new "brave faces". Brave faces are, by most general description, Piglet's attacks.
After finishing a level, you can even go back and play a new mode called "Bravest of Them All", in which you're sent to chase down all the heffalumps and woozles. Only thing is, now they run away, and you don't have to "fight" them, just catch them. As for a catch, there is a time limit for each room, and boy are they harsh. You have to be perfect to do it successfully. There is absolutely NO room for error. A trait never before seen in a game for young children. I love it.
The levels themselves are really the high point of the game. Each level is molded around what that specific character might have on his mind. For example, Eeyore is a pretty depressed guy, and his world shows it. The first part is a very spooky Halloween-like place, with gloom and misery rampant, and the second part is a creepy castle which has lost its colour. Then there's Roo's level. I can't explain why, but his world is like one big craft. Everything is made out of cardboard and got the Crayon treatment. It looks like something out of Yoshi's Story, or at least the Yoshi's Story level of Super Smash Bros. I think it's a really neat way to do it, and can provide for some very interesting experiences. I won't find out personally, but I think this game would be cool to play while in some sort of inebriated state.
While the game is absolutely great from an artistic standpoint, I do have a few qualms with it. For one, the "battles" are just a little too hard for anyone who doesn't know the controller layout by heart, and may discourage some players. Kids are easy to discourage. But I was just fine, of course. Secondly, the pace is far too slow. Piglet plods along, and you'll probably want to stay one hit from death just because he runs a lot faster in that condition. Even though I like the idea of playing as Pooh and Tigger, they're also way too slow. I don't care if his parts are stealth-based, Tigger should move a lot faster than he does, and not tiptoe everywhere. Lastly, it might just be me, but every time I play this game I get really sleepy. It's not a boring game, but it just puts me to sleep really well. Like it's got some kind of hypnosis thing in it. Hmmm...
There are a few bad points to the game, but I have even more good points. A couple, mainly the voice acting and the level design, have already been expressed. One thing I really like about the game is that it can play with your emotions, mostly it'll make you laugh. The Brave faces are almost all funny to see in action; in one Piglet goes all Satan, and I was just rolling around laughing after I saw that for the first time. Piglet himself is a pretty funny guy, and seeing him run around absolutely terrified is funny, as long as pity for the little guy doesn't get in the way. The other characters offer some comic relief too. Rabbit's original problem is that he's stuck in the ground like a carrot, and just spills over with irony. And we can't forget Pooh, who is totally loveable and jocular as always. Conversely in Eeyore's level, there is actually an element of creepiness. I know it's hard to believe, but it's there.
There are unlockables, and they consist of scenes from the game and clips from Piglet's Big Movie. Not exactly the greatest of prizes, but hey, breadsticks is breadsticks. Options are limited, but they offer a Final Fantasy 9ish game of catch the frog. There is no multiplayer to speak of, but you weren't expecting any, were you?
And now that I'm getting far too close to a decent word count, I'll part and say that Piglet's Big Game is most definitely the greatest kiddy game that I've ever played. Although Mickey's Magical Mirror game was pretty good too. Damn, now I'm not sure which one I like better. But then again, Magical Mirror wasn't exactly a kid's game, it was pretty complicated... Ah Hell, I'll just go ahead and give Piglet an A-. Though I did give Magical Mirror a 5... It was a bit more fun... Who would have ever thought that this reviewing thing would be so tough? That's it, I'm just gonna stick with what I said, even if it does contradict itself over and over. But I'll draw your attention away from that with a funny picture of a banana. Enjoy!
I am a banana!!
|What it does well:
Excellent graphics and sound
Every level has a distinct style/theme
Plenty of humour
Way above average for a kid game
Bonus modes for completed levels
Respectable difficulty for small children...
|What went wrong:
...But far too easy for someone my age
Very slow gameplay. Even as Tigger
Cookies are sometimes annoying to hunt down
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