A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the game carries a straightforward pro-environment message that illustrates the impact that deforestation, garbage dumping, toxic waste, and the encroachment of industry can have on an ecosystem. Players assume the role of a saviour of the forest and must plants trees, destroy machines, and repel a variety of mechanized enemies.
What's it about?
When the peaceful Mana Woods come under attack from the mysterious Mecha, hero Dorian leads an army of Wood Spirits to repel the Mecha invasion in a series of real-time strategy encounters, while re-planting trees and cleaning up garbage and toxic sludge along the way. Dorian's army consists of the Ecolis (ground soldiers), the floating Ecomon, and the swimming Ecoby.
During combat, Dorian can summon his army and direct them on the battlefield to either attack, defend, or follow. The Wood Spirits can level up and learn special skills, and Dorian has a variety of magic spells at his disposal. The battle ends when winning conditions are met (typically, destroy all enemies on the screen), and is lost if the Mecha manage to cut down all the trees or destroy the Mana House -- Dorian's home base.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, ECO-CREATURES: SAVE THE FOREST's strong pro-environment message is undermined by frustrating gameplay.The Wood Spirits are hard to wrangle, don't always follow orders, and have a habit of wandering away or getting stuck on scenery. Also, Dorian will die after a couple of enemy hits, making him an ineffective general -- yet it's essential to have him close to the enemies since you can't issue commands to the Wood Spirits unless he's on the same screen. The game is unreasonably difficult at times, and controls and goals aren't always clearly explained.
There's some depth to Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest, but gamers will have to decide whether the frustration is worth the effort.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the real-world examples of the environmental issues portrayed in the game. How could things have been different if the Mechas had tried to compromise instead of using all of the forest's resources without asking? What are some ways that industries and machines could become more environmentally friendly? What are you doing on a personal level to be more environmentally conscious?