Buzz! Junior: Robo Jam
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a party game geared for children. It's composed of two dozen brief mini-games that require no reading and take mere seconds to learn. There is violence, but it is cartoon-like and directed only towards robots (there are no people or animals in the game). The mildly aggressive shenanigans include pillow fights, rocket cars that smash into targets, and pistons that squash robots. It is free of coarse language, sexuality, and controlled substances. Note that Robo Jam requires Sony's proprietary Buzzer controllers, which are optionally bundled with any of the four games currently available in the Buzz! franchise, including this one.
What's it about?
BUZZ! JUNIOR: ROBO JAM is the second game in the youth-oriented Buzz! Junior series and is very similar in design to its predecessor, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party. It's made up of easy-to-learn, sci-fi-themed mini-games that veterans of the genre will recognize as variations on many tried and true party game activities. Examples include "Octo-Bot," a rhythm-based music challenge; "Mad Mallets," a Whack-a-Mole-esque bug-thumping game; and "Odd Bot Out," a reflex test in which players have to identify from within a group of four the robot that doesn't belong. Points are awarded based on performance relative to other players and then tallied after a set number of mini-games to determine a winner. Expect a regular-length game between four players to last around 40 minutes.
Is it any good?
The mini-games are, by and large, well executed and fairly fun -- we especially liked "Basket Eye-Ball", a basketball-like challenge that involves tossing eyes into robot heads, and "Robot Teleport", a strategy game in which players try to land on each other's spaces on a board to knock them out. The problem is that there are so few of these games; a mere two dozen (that may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that games in the Mario Party franchise typically have 50 or more). In fact, you can play every activity in Robo Jam in a single marathon game. What's more, there's nothing outside the mini-games. There are no unlockable bonus activities, no art galleries, and no secret characters. There's not even a story of any kind to connect the mini-games together -- just a corny announcer who notes which player is in first place between rounds.
Consequently, Robo Jam won't hold most players' attention very long. Kids will want to play it when friends come over, but will likely lose interest once the mini-games start repeating. The bottom line: It doesn't merit a full-price purchase, not even with its cheaper-than-average $29.99 tag. There is enough entertainment here to make Robo Jam worth considering if you already have the requisite Buzzer controllers (which add $10 to the game's price when purchased as a bundle), and can find a good deal on the game disc. Otherwise, best save your money for a game with some longevity.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the social gaming experience. Is playing a game with a group of friends more enjoyable and satisfying than playing by yourself? Do you notice a difference in the levels of skill possessed by humans and computer controlled opponents? Which of the mini-games in Robo Jam are your favorite? Do you find that there are certain mini-games at which you excel? Can you identify a common link between these games (for example, do they all involve quick reflexes, strategy, or music)?