Zhu Zhu Pets Featuring the Wild Bunch

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Zhu Zhu Pets Featuring the Wild Bunch Game Poster Image
Cute, toy-based fun with nice non-competitive team play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game's peppy narrator describes the Zhu Zhus as friendly, fun-loving creatures. They're all about playing games and enjoying life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Zhu Zhu Pets don't have an objectionable bone in their bodies. They're cute, friendly, and utterly harmless. The forest critters of the Wild Bunch are described as "rambunctious" and we're warned that they're style of play can get out of hand sometimes. Don't worry, though: The worst they do is throw leaves in the air if they're about to get caught.

Ease of Play

The controls are simple enough for young kids to handle, but in order to find every hidden coin and secret area,  you'll need some real skill. Co-op play is designed so that neither player can get left behind -- if one character gets past a difficult jumping challenge, say, the other player is carried across by balloon to meet her.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

This is the second Zhu Zhu Pets video game, with more to come soon. These game are based on a popular series of automated mechanical pet hamsters. The DS version comes packaged with a Zhu Zhu Pets toy, one of many kids like to collect.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zhu Zhu Pets featuring the Wild Bunch  is a very kid-friendly video game, but that it is based on and centered around a popular line of toys. If the marketing connection is not of concern to you, though, there's very little else that anyone would find objectionable. The "bad" characters are only slightly mischievous and all the "good guys" do to them is tag them. Note that this is a review of the Wii verson but that there is also a different version of the game for the Nintendo DS which has the same name. The DS version is a top-down maze game which features vehicle races against the Wild Bunch animals, and also contains a "care mode" in which you can attend to the needs of your virtual hamster.

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What's it about?

ZHU ZHU PETS FEATURING THE WILD BUNCH is the second game based on the popular line of mechanical hamster toys. This game also uses as characters the newest Zhu Zhu toys, the Wild Bunch, who are various forest critters, like squirrels, raccoons, and bunnies. In the game, the rambunctious Wild Bunch have been bragging, claiming they can never be caught by the hamsters. What follows is a long-form game of tag, in which your hamster (there are many to choose from) hops, slides, and races through multi-level, obstacle-course-like worlds, trying to touch the Wild Bunch creatures. When touched, the forest animals simply raise a white flag. There are also a few vehicle racing levels.

Is it any good?

Zhu Zhu Pets featuring the Wild Bunch is very nicely geared toward an audience of vastly differing skill levels. Each level only requires that you find a key and an exit door in order to successfully finish it -- and even very young players should be able to handle that much. But there are also loads of collectible coins and gems (which can be used to buy special power-ups), hidden bonus stars, and of course, the rascally Wild Bunch to tag -- and a much higher skill level will be needed if you want to meet every one of those objectives. The co-op mode is designed in a unique way that pretty much allows a more-competent player to carry along a lesser-skilled player without anyone really losing (all you ever need is one of the two players to make it past any obstacle), which makes it a great game for older and younger siblings to play together. This is a fun, colorful, sweet-hearted action game that can appeal to a wide range of players.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like to play cooperatively. In what ways must two people work together in order to make a good team? How can you help a player who's having a harder time than you?

  • Parents can also discuss the marketing at play here. Can you enjoy this game without owning any Zhu Zhu Pets toys? Do you think the makers of this game want you to buy the toys?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo Wii
  • Price: $29.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Activision
  • Release date: October 19, 2010
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: E for (No Descriptors)

For kids who love action or adventure games

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