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Review: Bandai Namco’s Kids’ special

Christmas Eve is getting closer and closer and you might still wonder what to buy for the young gamers. It’s that time of the year where developers and publishers try to deliver fun games for the younger audience. Bandai Namco decided to release several games for the kids, including a new Barbie, Monster High and Kung Fu Panda game. But which game is worth getting for the young gamer? Time to see what those games have to offer!

Writer’s note:

Unlike other games we review here, we try to review these three games from the perspective of younger gamers. We don’t focus on technical flaws or shallow gameplay too much but try to find out what younger gamers might enjoy. These reviews are meant to give parents or family members an idea of what they are getting for Christmas.

Barbie and her Sisters Puppy Rescue (Wii U)

Let’s start with the new Barbie game called Barbie and her Sisters Puppy Rescue. Needless to say, this game is created for young Barbie fans. The goal of the game is to rescue puppies in an open-world city. This open world thing is actually done surprisingly well. Using your bicycle, Barbie can go wherever she wants to go in her search for a lost puppy. The city feels alive with pedestrians and cars going their own ways. You can’t really interact with those but this isn’t a Grand Theft Auto game of course. We’re sure the younger gamers will enjoy finding out everything the city has to offer!

Cruising around on your bicycle isn’t the main focus of the game, rescuing puppies is! The gameplay is rather repetitive and offers the same challenges. It starts with Barbie looking for a puppy. Once she finds it, she needs to interact with it and gain its trust so she can take it with her to the Puppy Rescue. Convincing a puppy to trust you sounds like a hard job but isn’t more than just a small mini-game. I’m sure younger gamers will enjoy this small mini-game but don’t expect deep gameplay.
After you collected the puppy, you’ll need to run some tests in the Puppy Rescue facility, which is actually a typical Barbie house. You need to scan the puppy for chips, feed it, train it, brush its teeth and more. Every task is done with the same mini-game where the only difference is the action; the input always stays the same.

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Barbie and her Sisters Puppy Rescue isn’t a deep game but we’re convinced that younger gamers might enjoy their time with it. The game is nicely created and the open city is fun to explore. It’s a shame the actual gameplay is a bit too repetitive and might become boring for the kids rather fast. Barbie fans will be delighted with the gift but other young gamers might want another game this Christmas.

We give this one a score of 3 out of 5:

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Monster High: New Ghoul in School (3DS)

Not a fan of Barbie, maybe you like Monster High better? Bandai Namco released a new Monster High game as well. The game starts with the theme song stating that every monster is unique and everybody should accept everybody as they are. A powerful message for the young gamers for sure. Strangely after this powerful message, you’re forced to create the new Monster, the character creator goes rather deep and features a lot of different facial expressions and clothes. You can make to prettiest monster of the school in minutes.

This is of course based on the popular Monster High dolls you can get in stores. We’re sure a lot of Monster High fans will be surprised with all options this character creator has to offer. Spending some time with your kids, trying to create the monster of their dreams is definitely some quality Christmas time.

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Once you’ve created your Monster, it’s time to set foot in your new high school. It’s amazing to see how big the school actually is. Just like Barbie’ open city, the school forms one of the most fun parts of the game. You can really explore the big school and find out everything it has to offer. If your kids watch the Monster High show, they’ll recognize some of the characters and locations for sure. Before getting this game for Christmas, it might be wise to check if the player knows the cartoon or collects the dolls. If not, the lore of Monster High might be a little too confusing.

The actual gameplay plays like a light version of an RPG. You need to become popular and do so by joining social clubs and run errands for the popular kids. Most of your tasks are fetch quests, meaning you’ll need to collect an item and return it to the monster that tasked you with it. It sounds repetitive but most of the fetch quests end with a sort of mini-game, some of those are actually enjoyable!

Aside of the RPG element there’s also the social element where you need to show what you’re capable of and why you should become popular in the high school. This social link is established by decision-making. Young gamers will need to understand the narratives in order to make the right social decisions.

Monster High: New Ghoul in School offers a lot of gameplay. It has a deep character creator, RPG elements and a social link. None of these gameplay mechanics work as they should but the combination of all three surprisingly results in an enjoyable game. It’s not a game for the very young gamers since there’s a lot of text and a lot decisions to be made. If you have teenagers in the family who like to play games, this one is worth getting.

We give this one a score of 3.5 out of 5:

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Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends (PS4)

The third and last game is a new Kung Fu Panda game that follows a different path. Showdown of Legendary Legends isn’t another 3D platforming game but a fighting game just like Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers. In fact, this Kung Fu Panda is a clone of the popular Smash series but manages to include some fun elements.

The story isn’t hard to understand, Po the Panda decided to bring all fighters together to see who is the strongest. This resulted in a legendary tournament where all Legendary Legends fight each other for glory. First things first, the presentation and voice acting is spot on. The same actors of the movies voice their characters in this game. It’s great to hear Jack Black again!

That being said, what does the game offer? Well, it offers 20 playable characters and 12 different maps, big numbers for a licensed game! The best part of it all is that each character feels and plays differently and the maps vary from plain platforms to dynamically changing maps. Developer Little Orbit really included everything a Kung Fu Panda fan would want to have in a fighting game, even some great assists. Characters that didn’t make it in the roster are used as assist trophies, again, just like Smash Bros.

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The fights themselves differ from the Smash games however. Where damage builds up in the Smash series, you’ll need to decrease the health in Kung Fu Panda. Each fighter starts with a 100% health bar, the more hits you take, the lower your health gets and the further you’ll fly away. Defeating enemies is only possible if you kick them out of the ring, you’ll first need to decrease their health in order to send them flying out of the ring.

Besides this Smash inspired gameplay, a tournament holds some different gameplay types. You’ll have timed fights, stock fights, item fights, fights on dynamic maps, multiple opponent fights, coin fights and a lot more. The game offers some surprisingly good fighting modes that younger gamers will certainly enjoy playing.

The controls are rather straightforward and aren’t deep like Smash. You have your standard and power attack, blocking button, special attack button (Final Smash like) and a grab button to grab items and assists on the field. The controls are challenging for the younger gamers but parents or brothers/sisters who like to join the game won’t have any trouble to master the controls. The level of difficulty on the other hand is rather high, the more fights you win, the stronger your opponents become.

Last but not least, the game also comes with a multiplayer, both locally and online. This turns this Showdown of Legendary Legends into a great family game to give this Holiday Season. It’s a great game and it offers some fun gameplay mechanics. It isn’t as polished or good as Nintendo’s Smash Bros. But it’s a great alternative for the younger, non-competitive gamers.

We give this one a score of 4 out of 5:

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Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.