What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sonny with a Chance is based upon the Disney Channel tween series of the same name, and that it is really only fans of that series who will be interested in playing the game. They should also be aware that, like all DS games by Disney Interactive, this one connects players to Disney's online community, D-Gamer. It is not necessary to join D-Gamer in order to enjoy Sonny with a Chance, but players will be given D-Gamer avatar outfits as "prizes," whether thy want them or not. It is also important to understand that, though the game is not being billed as DSi exclusive, there are certain mini-games that make use of the DSi's built-in camera and will not available to players on a regular DS.
What's it about?
The SONNY WITH A CHANCE DS game is based on the same-named Disney Channel sitcom about a teen-run sketch comedy show called "So Random." In the game, members of the "So Random" cast turn their studio into a giant game board and play against one another to see who can collect the most fan letters. Whenever a player lands on a specified board space, he or she initiates a mini-game for all four players to take part in. Mini-games involve activities like food fights, musical chairs, and dancing. Some are showbiz-based, like the one in which players literally hog the spotlight, trying to keep within the circle of a moving spotlight and pushing other players out of the light. Along the way, players will earn money to buy new costumes and to unlock more mini-games that they can then play outside of the boardgame mode.
Is it any good?
Sonny with a Chance, like many video game sitcom adaptations, doesn't attempt to follow plots or storylines from the show upon which it is based -- a sensible decision, as most sitcom situations aren't exactly playable scenarios. But the mini-games here do a good job of sticking with the tone and feel of the show. They certainly stay true to the "So Random" theme. And many of the mini-games are good, chaotic fun -- especially the ones that require you to push and nudge other players out of your way. The game's big flaw is in the layout of the game boards. There are too many empty spaces, and not enough that lead you into mini-games. And a mini-game can become quite monotonous and dull when it just involves one person after another moving along spaces on a board. Simply playing the mini-games on their own is much more enjoyable, but unfortunately, you can't "purchase" any of them from the in-game store until after you've completed them in a boardgame session.
Online interaction: Kids can win new avatar outfits for their online D-Gamer accounts. More impressively (though not technically online), four friends can play a mulitiplayer game with only one game card through the DS's wireless connection.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about whether fame is a worthy goal in and of itself. The characters in the game all want to be the most popular and most famous member of their show's cast. Do children think this is realistic? Or as the Sonny TV show is a comedy, do they understand the concept of the game to be satirical?
Why does Disney frequently create games based on their TV shows?