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Mater's Tall Tales Wii lacks the open world of Cars, Mater-National or Race-o-rama, but its four player mini-games mean that the whole family can play at the same time.
Cars Toons, is an extension of the Pixar Cars film. Short animations like Tokyo Mater were released on newer Pixar films as bonus content. More recently they have been brought together on the Mater's Tall Tales DVD.
As any parent with young (or not so young) boys will know, Cars was the perfect film franchise for all manner of spin off toys, games and paraphernalia. This led to some really very good videogames. Cars (Wii) was released alongside the film and offers an open world driving adventure. Mater-National (Wii) followed this up with improved and expanded cast and environments, although not adding a lot a genuine variety. Cars Race-o-rama (Wii) was released a couple of years later with substantially new content - new maps, races and mini-games - again based on the same game engine. These three games were basically built on the same exploration and race formula, which because they were pretty good in the first place was no bad thing.
Now, with the release of Mater's Tall Tales DVD, there is a new Cars game on the Wii, but this time it's a collection of small challenges rather than one big game. This makes it easier for younger players to get involved. It also means that four players can compete at the same time.
While my older kids are still finishing off Race-o-rama, and addicted to collecting every last lightning bolt, they were happy enough to spend some time playing Mater's Tall Tales. My youngest (3) got the most out of it though as he could join in with, rather than watch, the action. It sounds like a small thing, but I know not being able to take part is a real frustration to him so it was great to see him stood there with his own Wii-mote (like a "big-boy" as he puts it).
After playing this on the Wii, he also discovered Mater's Tall Tales (MobiGo) which was even more of a success for him as he could play that all on his own. Being a MobiGo game, it's also got an education edge to it, which the Wii version is lacking. There is even an eBook version Tokyo Mater (VReader) which my daughter has been enjoying.
It offers something that younger players (and parents) can join in with.
The Wii game is based around the different imaginary personas that Mater dreams up for himself in the DVD: Mater the Greater, Unidentified Flying Mater, El Materdor, Rescue Squad Mater, Tokyo Mater and the Monster Truck Mater. These create the themes for 30 different mini-games that range from racing, flying and shooting challenges.
As you work through these you win points that can be spent customising your car. My kids spent as much time creating their own character as they did playing the main game - wheels, tires, paint and so on.
Mater's Tall Tales isn't as impressive or engaging as the original Cars or Cars Race-o-rama games, but it still captures the Pixar feel of the film. The focus here is on short bursts of fun rather than something you will play for hours and hours. After the kids have ploughed a good 20 hours into the original Cars games I'm happy for this one to be less of a time sink.
It's a game that does its job well and offers something that younger players (and parents) can join in with.
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