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Dora the Explorer comes to the Wii's motion sensitive screen and prooves that 2K Play really know their apples when it comes to childrens game. Not a whiff of the games of my younger years, here is a genuinely modern take on a game for youngsters.
I'd been hanging on to this one for a good while in anticipation of my eldest daughters 5th birthday. For those of you not familiar with Dora the Explorer, she is our cutesy South American friend who along with companion, Boots, goes on various adventures.
These adventures are typically educational but mostly entertaining. I've never really figured out what Boots is, a monkey in Boots? Anyway I digress, the TV series has been a worldwide phonemenon, and Dora was the first word I even heard my youngest say clearly! I'd long been a fan of the Dora TV series as it had given my eldest the ability to say 1 to 10 in Spanish, and given her an interest in other cultures and languages.
The plot for this Wii title is a little Narnia-esque in that we find ourselves in a mythical magical forest covered in snow, with an evil witch thrown in. For legal reasons though I should probably point out that the Narnia similarity stops there! The witch has put a spell on the Forest (ring any bells?), which is now under threat of deforestation if not stopped as soon as possible. Tragedy can only be avoided via the discovery of Aslan the Lion, oops sorry, I mean a magic Cystal.
In order to rescue the Princess, Dora must navigate her way through various obstacle covered regions such as Coastland, Mountains and a castle. This one is a platform style game, in fact it's more platformy than glam rock.
It's timed just right for kids to find the end, and get some closure.
As ever , when reviewing these kids games it's easy to slip into adult reviewer mode but I will try my best to present the experience from a five year old's perspective, which brings me on to the game length. A common criticism of childrens games is that they are not long enough, in our case this was perfect really. All in all I would say we had about 4 hours of dabbling on this one until completion, it's timed just right for kids to find the end, and get some closure, so don't winge about it not being 30 hours long - it is not meant to be.
After a quick tutorial showing how to climb, swing, dig and a few others, it was on to the adventure. I noticed that my youngster picked up the moves quickly and easily and was confident in no time. Levels are very similar in look and feel and this is testimony to the kind of repetition that this age group thrives on. Collectibles are found along the way, with Level typically ending with funky races, upon completion these can be replayed in two player mode.
My daughter loved the part where you make the Pegasus soar weeeee, the controls being pitched just right for a more interactive experience. Most kids playing this will stand up at various junctures, swinging the controls with an intense look of concentration on their face!
your youngsters will be playing independently in no time, and you can also tag along as a snowy helper which is great fun.
There is various tasty fare on offer such as building snowmen, skiing and dog sledding (and more). The makers have got it just right in my opinion, one of the problems in playing Wii games with children as a parent is that you often end up doing pretty much everything owing to the difficulty level. Not so with this one, your youngsters will be playing independently in no time, and you can also tag along as a snowy helper which is great fun. The levels are playable, bright, colourful, interesting and actually doable for the age group the game targets. My understanding is that the game makers (2k play) put a lot of effort into having kids and parents test the game, and it shows.
Although officially aimed at 2 years and up, I would recommend a more pleasurable experience would be had by those children that are four or five, and have a good grasp of rudimentary Wii controls. The thoughtful inclusion of the Snowy Forest Helper character makes it great fun to team up with your child and play – thoroughly recommended. Dora and Diego have pretty much cornered the market it would seem at the time of writing and this one upholds the reputation nicely.
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