Review by matt91486

"Children’s Games > You"

Considering how many in-progress reviews that I have, I sincerely wonder why I decided to review a game that says on the casing ‘For ages three to eight.’ Games like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid have received, and will receive, plenty of coverage, while the children’s game lies basically untouched at GameFAQs. So, when ASchultz began submitting reviews from other Humongous Entertainment licenses, like Spy Fox and Freddi Fish, I figured the time was right. Time to take advantage of your younger cousin’s games!

A horrible, tragic thing has happened at the zoo. All of the baby animals have wandered off and been separated from their parents. Yes, you and I may think this is an utterly absurd and boring premises, but a young child will eat it up. My four-year old cousin was actually quite worried about Masai the Giraffe’s safety. Part of the reason for this is the extreme level of attachment that children in the suggested age range still feel for their parents, and that bond makes the story more traumatic for them. Corny to you, but great for the age range.

Actually this generic concept is carried out superbly, in Humongous Entertainment’s usual fashion. Humongous Entertainment seems to be the leader in kids game developing, and Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is certainly a showcase of their innovative takes on tired children’s game concepts. This is your typical, point-and-click computer game adventure. Simply click when the arrows appear, and you shall keep on moving. Not complex in the least bit, but nicely done. Puzzles are complex enough to make gamers in the four to seven age range think just enough to make Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo worthwhile.

Your goal is to find your way through the maze of the zoo, and rescue all of the baby animals, and ultimately return them to their families. This is accomplished by utilizing all of the resources in your environments to solve simplistic puzzles to get access to the animals. Once you have the access, it’s just a matter of a little bit of movement to get them reunited with their families. Isn’t it great to help people out? Isn’t it?

One of the things that makes Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo so appealing to younger children is how bright and colorful that this game is. You’re cruising around in a purple convertible - that should give you an idea about the game right there. Realism has been sacrificed for occasions to use more vibrant color than is actually found in nature. You know, the lions are rather orange, giraffes are yellow, but that’s how children color animals. They simply color the elephant gray, not a mixture of blue, purple, green, tan, and gray, the way a real artist would work. Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo captures that childlike innocence by not bothering with coloring things correctly, but instead using a whimsical style that gives the game a wonderfully childlike feel.

The imagery is also done in a cartoonish style, with the animals all having big eyes and exaggerated features. Putt-Putt has a playful face drawn on him where the grill should be, further extending the cartoonish nature of the game. The environments do a great job relaying the sense that you are actually in a zoo, from the fences lining the paths you drive along to the plant life miraculously changing with every cage. Humongous Entertainment threw in some nice touches like this, and it really helps bring Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo to life. Having flawless animation doesn’t hurt anything either

Musically Putt-Putt tried to relay the same innocence as they did graphically. They failed, instead purveying the notion that they felt that children would be unable to tell good music from bad after listening to Raffi for all of those hours. Sadly, my ears are not numb from ‘Baby Beluga.’ Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is filled with horribly corny music, music that seems to have been composed by a first timer in the middle of a business meeting. All of it is predictably bouncy, childlike and happy, hardly emotions that agree with me after the shocking news of Darryl Kile’s passing. Even worse, the same song seems to be stuck on repeat throughout the game, so expect to listen to the song an awful lot.

The sound effects in Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo are somewhat better, but flaws still abound. One of the biggest problems with the noises is the lack of variety. There are not a whole lot of effects to listen to, so they tend to repeat quite a bit. The driving of Putt-Putt, the talking of the baby animals, the menu noises - that is about the extent of what you hear in Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo. The voice acting is a nice touch and it helps give the characters some more personality, but many of the voices are awfully similar to one another, and they make it somewhat different to distinguish between the characters.

Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is quite easy to control, much of this stemming from the fact that the game is a point-and-click adventure. Controlling is all done with the mouse, and as long as your trackball is moving smoothly, you should not have any problems. One of the nice touches that Humongous Entertainment added is how they make it easy to choose directions. When navigating, arrows pop up allowing you to pick the directions. But, since Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is designed for young children, they were generous when programming the areas that would set off the directions, which makes it much easier to navigate quickly through the zoo.

Regardless of the simplicity, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo manages to be somewhat entertaining. I don’t know how much of that stemmed from playing the game with a four-year old cousin who was amazingly captivated by the storyline, but rescuing the animals in the zoo interested me for a while. Part of that interest came from being able to watch the spectacular animation in motion. Some of it came from trying to figure out just how deep a children’s game can be. (The answer - not very.) Still others came from trying to figure out what secrets were included, like the hidden appearance of Freddi Fish.

While it was able to interest me, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo was certainly not able to challenge me. The puzzles are designed for the younger set and while those within the age range would have to think to make their way through them, anyone over the age of ten should roll through - the solution will be obvious. All in all, even at its best, this title just is not up to the challenge of challenging me.

After beating Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo (very quickly do the lack of difficulty), I felt no desire to play through it again. I stumbled upon Freddi Fish the first time through the game, and that’s one of the big reasons that this title is supposed to be played through twice. As a point-and-click adventure, the animals are reunited and that’s basically it. The depth is limited. There’s no incentive to play through Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo again. The animation isn’t THAT good to have me muddle through mindless puzzles again.

Unless you are buying Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo for a child within the age range, this game is one that you should probably pass on. There’s just not enough for you to do. A kid between the ages of three and eight, though, would adore this title, and watching the rich animation in motion. For adults the puzzles are too easy, the solutions too obvious. However, they will captivate children for hours on end. It’s not a bad game, but some more could have been done to give Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo some added longevity.

PROS
*Young children will easily be attached to the likable characters.
*Probably one of the most beautiful interactive cartoons around.
*Appearances from other Humongous Entertainment characters make you want to search them out.

CONS
*Gamers over the age of seven will be turned off by the simplicity.
*The plot is so sickeningly sweet you could get a cavity.
*Some more variety would not have hurt anything.

SCORE SUMMARY

GAMEPLAY--6
GRAPHICS--8
MUSIC--3
SOUND--6
CONTROL--8
FUN--5
CHALLENGE--LOW
REPLAY VALUE--LOW

OVERALL--5


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 06/22/02, Updated 06/22/02


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