Will Pooh Bear's adventures make your kid happy as a Tigger or solemn as an Eeyore?
I've always had a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh and company, which explains how Disney's Winnie the Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventure found its way into my lap for a review. The game is clearly skewed towards the younger gamer, so anyone over the age of ten probably won't get too much from playing it. That is not to say that this is a poor game. In fact, unlike a lot of other licensed kid games, Rumbly Tumbly Adventure has some excellent production values and gameplay that's appropriate for young new gamers.
The basic premise of the game is simple. Winnie the Pooh feels a rumbly in his tumbly (i.e. he's hungry) so Christopher Robin suggests that Pooh think about something else to take his mind of his tumbly. Pooh begins to think about various birthday adventures, as they are some of his happiest memories. The game lets players take control of Pooh Bear through these various adventures.
In all, there are five different adventures. Piglet, Roo, and Tigger's birthdays are available from the start, and Eeyore and Pooh's birthdays are unlocked as players complete the first three adventures. Additionally, there is a Junior Mode in which very young gamers can wander around the Hundred Acre Wood and interact with various characters and objects without any set story structure or dangers from enemies. It basically lets novice young gamers wander around an area and press the A button at various context sensitive areas to see a short cut-scene of the character performing an action. Lastly, there are several mini-games that let one or two players compete in simple contests.
The mini-games and Junior mode add a little extra play value to Rumbly Tumbly Adventure, but the heart of the game is the Adventure mode. Players guide Pooh through the Hundred Acre Woods, talking with Pooh's friends, hunting for hunny hidden in various background objects, performing simple fetch-quests, and solving simple puzzles. It's all very straightforward thanks to a nice map, steady in-game hints, and subtle highlighting on objects that have hidden hunny. This makes completing the adventures a simple affair, so an attentive young gamer should be able to finish the game with little help from someone older. Young gamers can learn basic gameplay conventions like box-pushing puzzles, collecting items to earn keys, and simple stealthy movement.
While Winnie the Pooh is the main playable character, players can also use Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet in various parts of the adventures. Tigger stealthily sneaks around (which unfortunately means no bouncing), Eeyore runs around and collects flying creatures (usually butterflies), and Piglet can use his scary face (performed by pressing buttons in various combinations) to make enemy Heffalumps and Woozles run away. All play differently than Pooh, but with in-game instructions and a gentle learning curve, young gamers shouldn't be too flustered by the change.
Rumbly Tumbly Adventure's simple gameplay mechanics are accompanied by some very nice production values. Developer Phoenix Studio has done a superb job at creating a virtual Hundred Acre Woods and giving young gamers a nice piece of eye-candy. The backgrounds are detailed and colorful. Objects and characters are nicely modeled. Characters animate nicely, and lip-synching is spot-on. Voice acting sounds just like Pooh's animated adventures. In other words, young gamers and fans of Winnie the Pooh will be delighted to see and hear all of Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventures.
Though a fine example of children's title done right, the game is not without a few blemishes. Each area of the Hundred Acre Woods is fairly small, so there are frequent load screens whenever a player has to go from one area to another. The load times aren't terrible, but their frequency is a bit annoying. Also, while the game is well designed for young gamers, there is one puzzle involving pulling levers on Rabbit's machine that is annoying and out of place with its trial-and-error solution. One last shortcoming is that each adventure can be finished in one or two sittings, so there's a somewhat limited amount of play time before a player sees everything.
Still, the overall strengths of Rumbly Tumbly Adventure easily outweigh any negatives, so that a young gamer should have a good time playing it. The game's great presentation and appropriate play mechanics make it a nice introduction to console gaming for young kids.