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Fifi and the Flowertots for the Nintendo DS is a collection of mini games and puzzles for children a little older than when they first watched the realted TV show. There are fifteen different games to play including wordsearch, sudoku, spot the difference and jigsaw. Each game has three different difficulties and medals for kids to win, which promotes a sense of pride and motivation. Although Fifi and her garden companions are aimed at preschool children, this DS game raises the bar for those a little older.
I decided that the real test of Fifi and the Flowertots would be my young daughter, aged two and half and a huge fan of the Folks from Flowertot Garden, I could see if this game had the ability to grab her attention. From the moment the game starts up, the theme tune to the TV show plays and her eyes lit up. This was a new way for her to experience one of her favourite characters. We settled down and listened as Fifi welcomed us to her garden and invited us to play the games on display.
My daughter managed to find her feet easily and within a few minutes we were learning and having fun.
The menu is designed around sets from the show; Fifi's watering can house is there, as is bumble, the bumblebee's hive. Each of these holds two to three games or puzzles. Once we'd navigated through the colourful menus and settled on our first game, pairs, we chose the easy difficulty from the three available. This was a simple game to start with, flipping over the cards to match the characters. My daughter managed to find her feet easily and within a few minutes we were learning and having fun. She enjoyed this first game immensely and was eager to keep playing, we decided to give the other games a try and unfortunately our happiness soon abated.
Although Fifi and the Flowertots appears to be very 'kid friendly' some of the puzzles and games here are very tough for such young minds. Even a child of six or seven could struggle with wordsearch's that contain the word antennae or a sliding puzzle made up of twenty tiles. Many of the games are based on memory and reactions, asking somebody to memorise patterns of speech and then timing them as they input them is tricky enough for an adult, let alone a child of four or five.
After finding out that most of the games weren't really suitable for my daughter we were left disappointed and she was left suitably frustrated. Why a game based on a franchise aimed at children of preschool age designs their games for an older audience is puzzling in itself. I can honestly say that I can't think of many children that would find this game fun, past the cute visuals and soundbites.
There is a lot of variety here and some interesting ideas, each game that is completed results in you winning a medal, gold, silver or bronze. This leads to children striving to earn different colours and awards them for their hard work. My daughter enjoyed counting her medals on the profile page and we tried to score more gold medals after each look at this screen.
I enjoyed sitting with my daughter to play through Fifi and the Flowertots.
Although Fifi implements such a good reward system for performing well, there isn't a great deal of reward or help if your child doesn't answer correctly. One game in particular asked my daughter to guess which characters on the touch screen matched two silhouettes on the top screen. While this sounds simple, when she's looking for say, Bumble and stingo, if she accidently taps the wrong character or chooses the wrong one it changes the silhouettes rather than giving her another try. This then means she can get confused and frustrated looking for the previous characters.
Another game with difficult mechanics is the 'dress the flowertots' puzzle, this shows you a flowertot on the top screen and it will be an amalgamation of three different characters, the picture then fades to black and the child is asked to recreate the picture. Rather than taking advantage of the touch screen and allowing the child to drag the parts to make the picture they're asked to tap tiny arrows which moves parts back and forth, even I had trouble lining up the stylus at times.
I enjoyed sitting with my daughter to play through Fifi and the Flowertots, although she is younger than the recommended age she had fun with a couple of the games and enjoyed the interaction. We'll definitely go back to play again but, I do feel however that the puzzles are aimed at children above the age that usually enjoy Fifi so it will be a while before we venture back into Flowertot Garden.
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