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 part of a series of DS games produced by Ubisoft to help girls figure out what they want to be when they grow up. The game pulls no punches and offers a well-rounded look at babysitting, depicting babies as being as needy, loud, and smelly as well as cute and cuddly. A variety of ethnicities and both genders are represented equally among the babies. It should be noted that the game isn't actually suggesting that girls become full-time babysitters, but depicts the main character as a university student who babysits part-time. In multi-player mode, two people with a copy of the game can watch their babies play together. If only one person has a copy of the game, friends can still play a couple of the mini-games together.
What's it about?
Ubisoft's IMAGINE: BABYSITTER is a game from Ubisoft's Imagine series, a collection of Nintendo DS games aimed at letting young girls explore different professions. In this particular title, players assume the role of a college student who decides to make some extra cash by babysitting.
The format is similar to other caregiving games like Nintendogs. From an overhead map, players travel to different houses in the neighborhood to look after a variety of babies. During the babysitting sessions, players will have to entertain the baby with rattles and other toys to keep him or her happy, and respond to visual cues indicating when the baby needs to be fed, soothed, or have a diaper changed. As the game progresses, players will earn new outfits to dress the babies in, and can shop for new furniture, clothes, and hairstyles for themselves as well. As players build stronger relationships with each baby, the baby will respond by initiating play (which takes the form of mini-games such as memory matching and Simon Says) and trips to the park.
Is it any good?
While it's cute to watch the babies toddling around, the game's production values are average at best. Some of the babies' poses look strange, and sound cues are dismal – especially ones that involve voices. Also, parents have a habit of coming home right when you're in the middle of a task, like changing a diaper, causing you to fail. Still, as a career sampler, the game succeeds in pulling no punches. Babies aren't treated like cute dolls, but like actual babies with all the crying, neediness, and responsibility that comes along with them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what their favorite, and least favorite parts of babysitting were. Did the good (playing, cuddling) outweigh the bad (diaper-changing, crying)? Do you think this is a good warm-up for becoming a babysitter in real-life, or is there more to learn? How old do you think a person should be before they become a babysitter? At what age should children be allowed to be left home alone without a babysitter?
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