Selling many a unit in its four years on the market, and enticing lots of non-gamers in the process, it is hard to imagine where the DS would be were it not for Nintendo's partnership with Dr Kawashima. Yet, despite the many clones and rip-offs a successful concept as this creates, there has not yet been a competent equivalent to Brain Training focused completely on the youngest player. Funny, then, that Avanquest Publishing have managed to tick a few of the right boxes - just not the more important ones.
Not evident from the front of the box, but pushed straight to the forefront of attention on the back, Junior Classic Games focuses on a cartoony portrayal of the animal kingdom, with more monkeys, elephants, hippos, and parrots than you can fire tranquilizer darts at. All of these creatures are used through the game in different ways, although the end result falls well short of full potential. Upon starting up the game, players will be prompted to create one of three profiles for themselves, to help keep track of the awards they can win, and high scores. Once that's done, a selection of mini-game categories is brought up - music, letter, memory, puzzle, observation and miscellaneous - with a varying number of games for each one. Each offers the player a helpful explanation of the game in question, and a choice of one to three-star difficulty levels before they start playing. The difficulty changes for each game aren't a huge step, but for challenge and replay value they are welcome.
Although there are a vast number of different games, ranging from dancing with lemurs to placing a path for kittens to follow to safety, there are a great number of identikits with altered skins. One of the more popular duplicates is ABC, where you have to fit numbers 1 - 4 in a 4x4 grid without horizontal and diagonal repetition of the same number; this concept is repeated twice more with lions and fish in a separate category. As well as repeated formulae, ABC brings up another trait of JCG; a great number of the games are just animalistic takes on regular pen and paper activities. Sudoku, Hangman (though HangMonkey would be a better name here), Wordsearch, Jenga, and even Solitaire are included - none of which, even with the nature element mixed in, are as good as the real deal. There is even a Guitar Hero clone that provides neither a good tune nor sufficient feedback results.
Not helping matters is Junior Classic Games' poor effort in the visual department. Many of the menus and screens simply show a static picture of a creature and even in the games themselves, there is very little animation to speak of, except where it is critically needed. However, it is always presented clearly what you need to do in each of the activities, and there is no clutter or touch screen awkwardness to get in your way; it's just a pity that the game goes with a lazy Flash-animation look over a unique style of its own. For some of the games, audio feedback is essential, especially for those in the music category. What you get out of the DS speakers is largely function in these instances, although never anything catchy or memorable. There are some very basic background themes in other mini-games, and an incredibly annoying looping tune for the starting menu, and so little reason to waste your DS' battery life by having the volume switch set to anything above zero.
Junior Classic Game's target audience is the only demographic that will get any kind of enjoyment from it, and whatever they do get will be fairly limited. There aren't any multiplayer modes of any description here, unless you count passing the DS around to take it in turns. There is a medals system of gold, silver and bronze to consider, but there is no incentive to strive for them. Higher difficulties don't merit repeat play, as any difference is minimal, and there aren't any unlockable secrets to find. All of this adds up to a game that even the young will quickly bypass for a stronger product.
A good number of the mini-games are enjoyable, if a little stale in places. Touch screen works without a hitch, but multiplayer potential is completely ignored.
Extremely basic, with very little animation and many static screens. Good use of colour and environments, though, and a decent dose of creature variety.
You'll want to mute your system from the very first moment you turn the game on, and it's only due to few mini-games' dependence on it that you would ever need to raise it again.
A budget tag cannot hide little lasting appeal; there's a medals system with no reward for completion, the possibility of repeat play of mini-games with no scope for variation, and minimalist toughness levels.
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Junior Classic Games knows its target crowd, and yet does as much as it can to stuff things up for them. Youngsters will get a kick out of their first forays into popular paper games like Hangman and wordsearches, as well as the different animals on show, but there is nothing here to keep them playing beyond the initial try or two.
Thank you to review our game. I trully understand your opinion but i will reply on some point if you don't mind.
1. the short sound loops or lakc or more content = game on this segment are using 8Mbytes with 512 bytes os save data, so it's really hard to put a lot of content in a cartridge.
2. Lack of more animations : the main thing is we have done a lot of animations for the upscreens and down screen but due to the Vide Ram limitation of the DS we were not able to add all of them which is sad as the overwall aspect was better. We have new way is mastering DS hardware to put more animation on the game in our new titles but this one was finished a long time ago.
3. You are one of the oly person who didn't like the music as we have benchmark it with a lot of people and everyone was enjoying it.
You don't mention one of my favorites game wich is the sheep race and the ant game ;D.
Thanks again for the review and i hope you will enjoy our incoming title for the DSiWare called Fullux wich is a purely orginal creation self produced by the studio.
Thank you for the insight on this, Uacari. It's always good to see comments on reviews from developers like yourselves - it's a shame that it wasn't a high scoring review on this occasion, but I'll certainly look out for your future titles.
Yeah thanks Uacari, I could see where you and your team were going with this one, but it just fell short in too many places. Good luck with your future stuff though, there is potential at least.
Well the main issue with DS is the cartridge cost. Nintendo put publishers to pay a lot of money on this so it's hard to get more ressources for an original project. Also Budget title are also a big financial constrain and for developper of western Europe it's hard to be competive agains chinese thai etc....
Last point you may take in consideration when you review project is the fact there is still people that try to not doing a licence/branded product. In term of pure gameplay we know the flaw of this one but the important is to make the target people happy, and from what we know children were pleased by the game.
By the way if you want a scoop of incoming non anounced titles we can arrange this
davo (guest) 12.12.2009 01:13#5
All I can say is, games like this need to STORE highscores,for each profile. And include a scoreboard that cuts across all profiles. Going back to shoot for highscore gives a game some replay value. No scoreboards = no replay value. Pardon if I got my games mixed up. I might be taking about Junior Brain Trainer. I know ONE of these games does NOT record scores although some games SHOW a score as you play. The lack of recorded scores is lame. If space is an issue, I'd say chuck on of the mini games, and add the saved scores and scoreboards