A playful game ideal for Bluey’s target audience of preschoolers and grade schoolers.
The announcement of a Bluey video game felt like the logical next step for the Australian cartoon show that debuted in 2018 and exploded worldwide once BBC Studios gained the international distribution rights, leading to Bluey’s American success on Disney Jr. and Disney+. As a parent of young children, Bluey became a staple in my house, expanding culturally to the point where Bluey is more or less everywhere, showing up significantly more than I expected this past Halloween. It’s definitely a phenomenon, and now it has a video game to add to the saturation. Published by British games company Outright Games and developed by Spanish studio Artax Games (notably not an Australian studio, which is disappointing though BBC Studios holding the merchandising rights explains why), Bluey the Videogame is a neat little kid-centric sandbox trip through Bluey’s world, complete with full voice-acting, flexible four-player gameplay, and easy-to-understand controls.
Up to four players can join in, with the core family of Bluey, Bingo, Bandit, and Chili available to choose from. Regardless of whether or not you have four players, the unselected characters will still be around, leading you on to the next objective or just milling about. The structured meat of the game is found in four episodes that come complete with their own title card like the show itself. The writing here doesn’t rival the quality the cartoon reaches at times, but it does a good enough job of capturing the spirit as the kids put together an old treasure map from Bandit’s past. The episodes play out as very light point-to-point adventures where you solve simple puzzles and take on extremely light challenges. The lack of complexity makes it great for children, especially since I’ve seen an anecdotal surge in Bluey interest among parents of toddlers.
The episodic structure is neat, but it’s also over in about the same length as four episodes of the show (ETA 30 minutes). Beyond that, you can explore different locales from the show, most notably the Heeler house. In each area, you have a handful of collectibles to find. When all is said and done, there is probably about an hour or so of distinct content in this game, but the joy of this game is found in just messing around in the world even if playing Keepy-Uppy is disappointing in execution.
The reality is, for better or worse, as a game for adults, this is light, frivolous, and boring. But Bluey is aimed at an audience of children. To that end, it’s ideal. Full voice-acting means the game is approachable for a kid who can’t read yet (or well). The multiplayer gameplay allows for parents to play with their kids, made even better by how the game usually just needs one player to complete an objective, so you’re not spending all your time coaching the 2-year-old to succeed in Floor is Lava (I say this from experience). Bluey the Videogame feels like the developer actually put some thought into how to make a video game for the young children that this show is made for. It’s a success in that regard and it’s hard for me as a parent and a player to be frustrated at a game that works so well for my 5-year-old.
On Switch, the visuals are passable though not outstanding. In some moments, it mimics the show’s style perfectly. In others, it’s janky and stiff. My kids weaseled their way into some situations that necessitated rebooting the game, which is more of an illumination on the fact that kids play games in weird ways and they likely broke the game in a unique manner.
Bluey the Videogame’s worst aspect is how short it is. What’s there is enjoyable for its audience, even if it’s over so quickly. It does a good enough job of capturing the look and feel of the animated series, and even after completing the four episodes, my kids keep going back to mess around in the world. There’s a framework here that could make for some electric little kid gaming experiences and I hope to see the world of Bluey in video game form expand beyond this opening salvo. Bluey the Videogame is the kind of game Bandit would roll his eyes about but begrudgingly play with Bluey and Bingo anyway, and that’s okay, because Bandit’s the kind of dad that recognizes not everything is meant for him.