A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Magical Zhu Zhu Princess: Carriages & Castles may be a game featuring licensed characters from a toy line, but that it is an incredibly sweet and good-natured game with no overtly heavy marketing during its gameplay. The controls are easy enough for even very young kids to handle, and all instructions are spoken aloud, so reading isn't even required. Outside of the scenery, there's nothing particularly "princessy" about the game.
What's it about?
There's not much of a plot to MAGICAL ZHU ZHU PRINCESS: CARRIAGES & CASTLES, though the opening sequence tells a quick story about how a bunch of pet hamsters traveled to a magical fairytale world. The game has two main parts. The first has kids caring for an increasingly large family of hamsters -- feeding them, playing with them, bathing them, putting them to bed, etc. (It's all very easily accomplished with click-and-drag controls). The second part asks players to race the hamsters around through mazes, picking up coins, gems, and hearts as they search for the exit. Most of the mazes will also have a hidden item to find -- an outfit, a lost baby hamster, or a care item (such as a water bowl). This part offers the most challenge by far, but is certainly still easy enough for young kids to handle.
Is it any good?
Magical Zhu Zhu Princess: Carriages & Castles takes what kids love about the Zhu Zhu toys -- caring for them like real animals and then racing them through tube mazes -- and translates it perfectly to a video game. The formula may not be varied much from previous Zhu Zhu games, but the controls feel smoother and more refined here -- certainly easy enough for kindergartners to handle. The only complaint one might have about the game is that it's not very "princessy" as implied by the title of the game. But really, it's so adorable and sweet-hearted -- and so well-constructed as a game for younger kids -- that nitpicking in such a way doesn't feel right. Zhu Zhu fans will love this game -- and they should.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it's like to care for a real pet. How is it different from pet care in the game? Do you think the game could help you prepare to care for a real animal?
Which part of the game is more interesting to you: The caregiving or the adventure? Do you think both aspects can appeal equally to girls and boys?
What is it about virtual pet games that make them so popular? How about in this game? What did you like about caring for the hamsters?
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