The 3-year-old from across the street was over at our house last weekend when I wanted to play video games. This ruled Resident Evil 4 right out. So, on a whim, I dug out ‘Piglet’s Big Game’.
I had originally purchased PBG for my son to play, since at the time he was pre-literate, and having some troubles with games like Mario Kart: Double Dash, and Mario Party. He ended up not getting very far in the game for two fundamental reasons. First, he was perfectly happy to just have his character aimlessly wander around and interact with things, and therefore failing to progress. Second, the confrontations with the Heffalumps and Woozles scared him to death. Poor guy.
My daughter had picked it up and actually played it a bit, but she got stuck at a puzzle early on that required sneaking Tigger past some patrolling Woozles, and gave it up as too frustrating.
So, I sat down and methodically cleared the first two chapters. The 3-year-old loved it, although we’re pretty sure she thought it was a movie. Of course, now I want to finish it. After all, a game is a game, and who wants to quit halfway through a game?
And it’s a really, really cute game. You play mostly as Piglet, who scurries around with a head-bobbing shuffle that makes his ears waggle back and forth adorably. You sometimes play as other Pooh characters in special challenge segments, but the game focuses on Piglet. The shy little pig must enter his friend’s dreams like a diminutive Freddy Kreuger, only he must confront and overcome his own fears in order to help his friends.
Piglet confronts the Heffalumps and Woozles patrolling his friend’s dreams by making scary faces at them during a scary showdown sequence. Making a face involves hitting a specified button sequence before you get scared by the bad guy. New (and scarier) faces can be purchased by redeeming cookies that you collect in the game.
The game design is quite attractive, and each character’s dream is rendered in a style that evokes the dreamer. Pooh’s dreams take place in a candyland of giant cupcakes and peppermint sticks. Roo’s dreams are constructed of cardboard colored with crayons. The 3-D graphics are quite good, surprisingly. Game engines for children’s games typically suck, because, when you are buying a game because it features Barney the Purple Dinosaur, you don’t really care how smooth the movement is, or how much detail is rendered.
So I am taking a bit of a break from RE4 and galumphing through dreams as Piglet. If the people that warn us about violent video games are correct, I should start becoming desensitized to scary faces, and may start knocking people over while singing “the most wonderful thing about PAgents is, I’m the only one!” However, if I start developing a troubling stutter, it will be a clear signal that I should go back to blowing heads off with a shotgun.