A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, while Build-a-Bear: Welcome to Hugsville focuses on fun gameplay rather than commercialism, the game is inherently tied to the Build-a-Bear franchise and does draw children to the Buildabearville.com website by awarding secret codes that are only usable on that site. Outside of the codes and coupons, though, the game would be equally enjoyable to both Build-a-Bear fans and kids who are not familiar with the plush toy line.
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What's it about?
In BUILD-A-BEAR: WELCOME TO HUGSVILLE, the player takes on the part of a new resident to a town of cuddly stuffed animals. The mayor, Bearamy, asks for help in making the neighborhood prettier by planting lots of flowers and trees. He also asks the player to help out his or her new friends by playing with each animal at his or her signature game. These mini-games may involve hunting for treasure, navigating a maze, running a race, gathering golden pawprints, driving a car, or sketching a picture. By playing the games enough times, the player can unlock new areas and gain access to more furry friends, each with their own new mini-games. Throughout the story, the player will also be called upon to build usable items, like a scooter, a car, and even his or her own house.
Is it any good?
Build-a-Bear: Welcome to Hugsville presents itself as a story, and has some role-playing elements, but is essentially a collection of mini-games. The mini-games themselves are fun ones, many covering classic playground activities like tag. The play control is fine on most of the mini-games, though the small size of the DS screen is a detriment to a few of them, in which wee little character icons may make you squint a bit. The way the game is set up requires you to play through several levels of the same few mini-games before you even have the opportunity to open up new areas and earn new mini-games; the forced repetition may also be a source of frustration for some players. On the positive side, though, the ability to build and customize your own home and vehicles is a very nice touch, as is the chance to build up and personalize the flora of your virtual land. The online codes that can draw players onto the Buildabearville.com website don't affect gameplay, but are sure to be a cause of concern for some parents.
Online interaction: While the game itself is not online enabled, players can "win" codes that are redeemable on the Buildabearville.com website, which could encourage young kids to want to go online.
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