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Hello! Pocoyo is an endearing point and click adventure game that combines colouring, musical play and other activities in a clean and fresh kids tv style environment.
Adventuring games are enjoyed for two reasons: they provide enemy encounters that require tactics and strategy to conquor, and they create a fantasy world in which to explore and adventure.
The game is unique in the adventure genre because of its simplicity. This extends from the simple TV theme, to the look and feel, navigation and general aesthetic. This has been designed with the younger player in mind from start to finish.
Although my kids hadn't seen the cartoon, being a Spanish pre-school animated series perhaps this wasn't a surprise, they instantly understood the setup here. The game, like the show, stars a young boy who explores a sparcely populated world. It looks like a cross between the Magic Roundabout and an iPod commercial, but plays like a point and click videogame.
Once I entered a name for each of my two kids, I handed them the DS and let them get on with it. My oldest (5) was most proficient at the general navigation, here she simply has to tap the screen to move the characters around and double tap to interact with objects. A simple map on the top screen provides a square for each area in the current level and shows you where all the characters and items are.
More complex elements of the game meant that on occasions she asked me for e bit of help. This usual entailed selecting a certain character from a menu or moving to a particular screen. Once I'd shown her what to do though, she could solve subsequent problems herself.
Once she had solved a particular level she would then hand over to my older son to play the end of level minigames. These range from simple sorting exercised to more complex colour by numbers. Completing these games then unlocks extras on the front screen that can be played on their own - music instruments and colouring books.
Watching as my kids quickly got to grips with each scren based world was a novel experience. They seemed to pick up on the various visuals clues and character directions with ease. Before long they were picking up objects, combining them with other objects (lock and key style) as well as colouring by numbers and learning simple tunes.
The game is more segmented than a usual free ranging point and click adventure - with the younger player in mind. This means that each level is self contained - something that both limits how long is needed to complete them and also reduced the level of complexity. My kids seemed to take around twenty minutes to finish each of the first couple of levels, and a little longer thereafter.
Younger players may need a little bit of help with some of the dialogue and menu selection. But those who have a bit of schooling behind them should quickly pick things up. Most icons are self explanatory and the majority of text is also spoken.
Intermediate players will focus more on progression than simply playing around in the levels. Here, the game becomes more like a traditional point and click adventure - although still one dressed in minimalist attire.
Experts will find the cartoon characters and simple puzzles a little beneath them. They are more likely to be satisfied with titles such as Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass DS.
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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