What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game is based on the 1960s television show Rocky & Bullwinkle. It's geared for kids, but few people under the age of 20 will have any frame of reference. It features more than 100 microgames, the majority of which last no longer than five or ten seconds each. Most of the games are simple enough that a five-year-old could play them, but ambiguous instructions force players to figure out how to play most games on their own, which can be frustrating. There are no illicit substances, negative social messages, nor is there any sexuality. However, the game does feature some very mild, cartoonlike violence, including several games in which bombs explode. Some of the games allow you to use an optional Web camera for control. This game is only available on Xbox Live as a download.
What's it about?
ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, which features digitally re-mastered clips and sounds from the popular 1960s TV series, is a collection of more than 100 extremely short microgames. It's similar in design to Nintendo's popular WarioWare games, providing chapters for each of the show's most popular characters, including, among others, Boris and Natasha, Dudley Do-Right, and Aesop and son. Each chapter is composed of two dozen randomly selected microgames that increase in difficulty as the game progresses. Rocky and Bullwinkle supports an optional web camera interface, offers local, turn-based multiplayer for up to 12 players, and features unlockable collectible "gadgets" that can impact play by providing bonus points or additional time for each microgame.
Is it any good?
It might seem strange to make a game for kids based on a TV show most people under the age of 20 will have never seen. On the other hand, if a game is fun then it matters little how familiar anyone is with its characters. Problem is, Rocky and Bullwinkle isn't much fun. Most of the games are extraordinarily elementary, requiring players to do things like tap a button to stamp a piece of paper, spin the control stick to make a boat race forward, or rapidly depress the triggers to climb a tree. Even young children will likely grow bored of these challenges within minutes.
But worse than the game's overly simplistic nature are its confounding instructions. They're so poorly written and illustrated that they often leave you completely clueless as to what you're supposed to do. And when the game ends in failure after just a few seconds, there are usually no signs indicating what went wrong -- which means you're stuck in the same predicament the next time the game pops up. It's maddening. Adding insult to injury is a buggy camera-based interface. Rocky and Bullwinkle is one of a handful of Xbox Live Arcade titles that allow players to control game action via the Xbox 360's webcam, which means you can stand in front of the camera and move your arms and hands to interact with the game. The problem is that in Rocky and Bullwinkle the camera frequently loses track of one's movements -- not helpful when playing lightning quick microgames in which every second counts. At least the camera isn't mandatory. Take our advice and just stick with the traditional controls. It may be difficult to figure out what to do, but at least once you understand how to play, you won't have to worry about the controller not registering your commands.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the amount of attention required to play different kinds of video games. Do you find it easier to digest games that last only a few seconds each, or do you prefer interactive experiences that require intense concentration for long stretches of time? Is it confusing to rapidly switch focus between several games in just a few short minutes? Are you familiar with the original Rocky & Bullwinkle television show? Parents can provide context for the characters in the game by recounting their experience watching the show on Saturday mornings as kids.