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Wonder Pets Save the Animals joins the maddening crowd of animal care experiences on the DS. Here though we find a game where the pets take more of an active role.
Mini games come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relatively short time required to complete a level or two.
Most obviously the game stands out for it's use of the Wonder Pets television series. This show, created by Josh Selig for Little Airplane Productions stars three school classroom pets - Linny the Guinea Pig, Turtle Tuck, and Ming-Ming Duckling. But rather than needing care, the pets turn the tables by becoming the heroes.
The game takes players through a series of minigame experiences that use the DS's novel interactions to tell the sort of story followers of the show have enjoyed for some time. You use the microphone, tap, drag, blow, speak and circle through an impressive range of tasks. Pull a thorn from the tiger's paw, build a ladder to rescue a baby panda or tow the chimpanzee's space capsule to safety.
Voice's from the TV show appear and provide full narration of the tasks you need to complete. This along with the attention to detail, bright colours and fast pacing make it well suited to the audience of the cartoon.
Wonder Pets Save the Animals should mainly attract fans of the show. The chance for the very young to play a game aimed at them about their favourite characters is a strong formula. Our kids (three and five) were near bursting point as we waited for the game to load. Once I set them going they were then more than happy to work through the game themselves.
In fact this is a game that works both ways, as either an extension to the TV Show, or as an easy introduction for those youngsters who have not yet caught Linny, Tuck or Ming-Ming in their broadcast appearances.
Like the Diego and Dora games, Wonder Pets Save the Animals only takes a hour or two to complete. Although this completion will be relatively different on each play through as route and minigames vary. It's a part of the designed in charm of the game that it's duration enables a young player to get a sense of achievement in a coupled of half hour sessions.
The tactile controls, voiced instructions and repetitious play are well suited for pre-school gamers. Add in the Wonder Pets theme and authentic art style and voices and this is a great little game on the DS.
Older players will find less to enjoy here unless they have offspring or siblings of a suitable age. Even then it should be noted, so well tuned is the experience that little assistance is required from even the most novice of gamers.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
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