A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids can learn about gymnastic competitions from playing this game, including learning individual stunts and moves that make up a routine, but that the game's controls are troublesome.
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What's it about?
If you have children who are interested in gymnastics, they may be drawn to ENER-G GYM ROCKETS, a Nintendo DS game targeted at girls ages 6-14. The game casts you as a young gymnast who is just starting out. You compete in the floor exercise, balance beam, vault, and uneven bars at different venues and earn a score and coins. The coins can be used to purchase new gymnastic outfits, new music to hear during the competitions, and themes that change the way the game looks. There are also four minigames, including trampoline, a puppet show, a fortune teller, and a coloring book.
To perform tricks and create a routine in each of the events, you must drag your stylus in different directions. You always start a routine by dragging the stylus up; and once you see the gymnast start into her routine, you can influence what she does by executing different dragging gestures on the DS screen. For example, on the balance beam, if you want your gymnast to perform a cartwheel, you drag the stylus from the right to the left. Each event starts with a minigame, which is rhythm-based and serves to give your gymnast energy or focus. Unfortunately, the graphics for these stay on the screen for too short of a time for you to respond.
Is it any good?
While the graphics are good, and it is interesting to experiment with how to make your gymnast do different tricks by trying different dragging gestures, the game's controls don't work well. Even after playing through a tutorial, it is difficult to make the onscreen gymnast do what you want. Most of the time, your dragging gestures will not result in your gymnast doing the trick you want; rather, the screen will tell you, "Oops." The uneven bars is the worst, because there you are supposed to draw a circle with the stylus between each of the tricks; but frequently, the game will simply not register that the circle has been drawn and the poor gymnast will be stranded on the bar waiting for you to do something. Overall, this is a very frustrating game to play.
The concept of participating with the gymnast as she performs is a good one, but the gesture gameplay needs some honing. The trampoline minigame suffers from the same control issues, but it works better than the main events of floor exercise, vault, beam, and uneven bars. The puppet minigame is fun, because it lets you color in your own puppet and then see it animate, sort of like the game play found in Drawn to Life. The bottom line is that this is a good concept with poor execution.
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