What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a tie-in with the movie Shorts. It panders to a child’s sense of humor, delivering the sort of gross jokes (booger monsters) and schoolyard name-calling ("butt-face," "dork") that often amuses kids but can frustrate parents working to curb such influences. The violence, which includes cartoonish bombs, poisonous snakes, shrink rays, and telekinesis, is fairly mild, but still better suited for consumption by older children.
What's it about?
SHORTS, the handheld game based on Robert Rodriguez’s kids movie, is a simple platformer that captures the film’s style and humour -- which is to say it features plenty of immature humor (like snot monsters) and a bit of mild schoolyard name calling (dummy, dork). Players switch between a quartet of characters from the film as they run around themed environments based on locations that appeared in the movie, including a house, a fortress, and a factory. Players have a variety of ways to deal with the game’s obstacles, including a gun that can shrink enemies, a hover jump, a telekinesis attack, and the ability to use the DS stylus to draw platforms between ledges and to higher levels. New game elements are explained in simple terms whenever they are encountered, making it easy for kids to pick up and play regardless of gaming experience.
Is it any good?
Shorts seems to be slipping through the cracks. It was available at only a smattering of major retailers at the time of this writing, and that’s a bit of a shame since it offers up platforming action that’s a bit more compelling than standard game-based-on-a-movie fare. It should be just challenging enough for the ten-and-up audience for which it is geared, and it provides ample opportunity for them to use their brains to figure out how to take on enemies with varying abilities and work out how to move from one platform to the next by, say, growing plant stalks, performing hover jumps, or drawing platforms. The only serious downside is its length. With 26 levels to explore -- each of which takes less than ten minutes on average -- your kids could potentially blow through the game in a single liesurely evening. What’s more, replay value is low, as it plays more or less the same the second time through. Still, at $20, it’s pretty affordable.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about schoolyard humor. Why do some kids like to call other children imaginative but often cruel names? What makes it funny to them? Have you ever been called a name? How did it make you feel? Did you laugh when the game’s narrator called you a dummy for not knowing how to do something for which he had yet to provide instructions?