Puss In Boots is another of the many titles in the Tales to Enjoy! series by Enjoy Gaming. The intent with these titles is laser focused on children roughly four or five years of age. Adults or older gamers probably will not get much out of these games, but that leaves the question: will children enjoy them?
In and of itself, that is not an easy question to answer. A good deal of that answer depends on how much the child is interested in the story itself, which is usually the first mode they will play. Basically you get some graphics, voice content and text as they are walked through the story of Puss In Boots at their own pace. From the main menu this icon occupies the upper left corner and feels like the first thing they should use.
There are several other icons as well, however. They represent a handful of games with a very slow difficulty curve – such as match two or notice what is different between the two images (one on the top screen, one on the bottom). This latter one asks that you poke the general area of the bottom screen that is out of sorts from the top. Early on, there might only be two differences, such as someone’s face or the look of a window. Later stages may have as many as four or five items that are different.
This applies to pretty much all of the mini games. There is a mode that lets you try to assemble your own story – essentially tapping spots on the screen as the DS says what the item is. The idea here is that your child can tell the story, but leave out key words by touching the screen and having the system insert them into the telling of the tale. You can then advance the scene whenever you want. The idea is cute on the surface, and really reminds me of the old Leapster or LeapPad storybooks where you turn the pages and use the large stylus to tap things on the pages to hear something said in response. It might have been more interesting to leverage this in a different way though, like a retelling of the story that pauses and lets the child click on the thing on the screen that should be inserted next.
If you are familiar with other storybook titles by Enjoy Gaming, such as Little Red Riding Hood, all of this will be very familiar to you. Really the mechanics are all the same. You progress through the story section just as you would, you have a colouring book option, a tell your own story option and all of the puzzles are identical in function as well. What is different is that it all has a fresh coat of Puss In Boots paint, where you get new voice acting and visuals.
Sometimes the touch screen can seem just a bit unresponsive, and I wish the title had a bit more instruction on how to play the mini games. They were pretty obvious to me, but my daughter who was playing these with me is eleven and she did not understand right away how to play a couple of the games until she started to poke around the stylus to see what would happen on the lower screen. The match two was pretty apparent, but a couple of the others were a bit less obvious to her.
She is about five years or so older than the target audience, and got through the story and managed to see all of the basic content within about half an hour, so there is not a lot of meat on these bones, though the puzzles can be played for some time. That being said, they did not really hook her interest for much beyond that half an hour. She was a good sport about it, and said that she thought the music, voice work and visuals were all pleasant, but it was clear that the content would not hold an older child’s attention for long.
If your child is young enough to be interested in things such as colouring or activity books, and has an interest in the content of the story, Puss In Boots might be a good play for them. However, if the story theme does not interest them, or they are past the age of wanting to sit down and play matching games or colouring images (which the stylus and smallish screen of the DS are not really ideal for from a precision standpoint), they might not get much mileage out of this title.