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 Hasbro's line of Littlest Pet Shop plush toys. Players familiar with these toys will recognize many of the pets in the game and may be inclined to purchase others. What's more, one of the game's primary objectives is to collect "kibble" coins and use them to purchase clothing and accessories which can be applied in the pet shop salon. Consumerist message aside, the game is free of controversy; players simply collect pets, dress them up, and play with them.
What's it about?
Based on Hasbro's plush toy animals and virtual community, LITTLEST PET SHOP sees players ferrying animals from an adoption centre to their own pet shops, where they can be pampered in a salon and play with toys. The game's currency, "kibble," is collected by engaging in a wide selection of mini-games, including swings, slides, and dancing, then spent on clothing and accessories that pets can wear, new toys for the pet shop grounds, or train tickets that allow new pets to come join the player's collection. Additional toys, pets, accessories, and three more pet shop areas are unlocked as the game progresses.
Is it any good?
Play ought to satisfy young children. The mini-games, most of which make use of the Wii's motion-sensitive and infrared controls to intuitively do things like blow bubbles, change the direction an animal runs, and blow up balloons, are simple enough that kids of kindergarten age ought to become comfortable with them in minutes. What's more, three difficulty levels (selectable before each game starts) help ensure an adequate challenge for slightly older children. Happily, there is no losing; if players don't do well enough to earn many coins in a particular game they can try again or simply move on.
Note, though, that a substantial amount of reading is required to understand specific game objectives. Players who are still learning to read might not get very far. Also, the game isn't particularly long. Pets, toys, and play areas are rapidly unlocked, providing great incentive to keep playing until suddenly all items and toys have been earned, at which point players will be stuck simply replaying old games and dressing up their pets using the same accessories. Still, young children who own Littlest Pet Shop stufffed toys will likely get a kick out it while it lasts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the web-based means by which toy companies attract and retain kids' interest in their products. Did you want Littlest Pet Shop because you already had a Littlest Pet Shop toy? Did you learn about the game through Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop online community? One of the main reasons toy companies create fun and intricate product web sites and virtual communities is so that they can make sure you know about the existence of other products they have for sale. How does that make you feel?
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