Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is based on the movie of the same name and is clearly targeted at children who watch the film or who are fans of the Ice Age franchise. Unfortunately there is a disconnect between the movie's target age of 6 and the ESRB's rating that this game is appropriate for ages 10+. Parents trying to decide whether this game is good for their young kids should know that the game has mild cartoon violence about on par with what occurs inside a Mario platformer. Our animal avatars defend themselves from the cute but moderately aggressive wildlife they encounter by throwing snowballs and mudballs, tossing fruit, and hitting them with spin attacks and punches. Defeated enemies simply squeak, teeter, fall down, and disappear in a puff of smoke or a burst of colorful leaves.
What's it about?
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS lets players take control of many of the characters from the film upon which it is based. As Sid, the sloth, players leap from platform to platform, collect a variety of fruits and crystals, and defend themselves from attacking wildlife. A mission as Manny, the woolly mammoth, has players ripping up tree trunks with his tusks. As Diego, the saber-toothed tiger, players get to chase a gazelle in a timed race, and as the loveable muskrat Scratte, you run from left to right in a brief 2-D platform adventure, while collecting cherries and avoiding other animals. Outside the main story mode, players take on a smorgasbord of challenges and can engage in multiplayer party games that use mechanics practiced in the story mode, such as Sid running atop a giant snowball and using it to push other characters off an iceberg.
Is it any good?
The latest Ice Age game is a fun little counterpart to the new film. With objectives, mechanics, and characters changing every other level, players are unlikely to grow bored quickly. And while this diversity means many levels require a quick explanation of controls and objectives, play is always rudimentary enough that it never takes more than a minute or two to get the hang of things. Plus, there are loads of unlockables earned by collecting and spending cherries, the game’s currency. In addition to several multiplayer mini-games and challenges, players can also purchase movies, art, music, and character voice-overs.
The only downside? Difficulty is occasionally imbalanced. Some kids will find themselves skating through a platform level with little trouble before getting stuck in an area that requires an incongruously high level of hand/eye coordination. Other than this one small beef, Dawn of the Dinosaurs delivers good gaming value -- especially for a game based on a movie license.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be a “mamma,” which is how Sid, the sloth, refers to himself throughout the game. Moving beyond the fact that the word is inherently feminine, what are some of the traits mothers have? Can men have these qualities as well? Are there differences between moms and dads that go beyond gender? Does Sid make a good “mamma?”
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