May 16, 2009

Crayola: Colorful Journey - Wii

Author: Kirby Y

Having a 4 ½ year old daughter and a 2 ½ year old son has made me realize the true importance of the Crayola brand. They have a ton of crayons, markers and coloring books that keep my kids busy for long periods of time. This ‘old-school’ activity has been a childhood ritual for many years. Well Crayola has entered the tech generation. Quite sometime ago I reviewed a Crayola game for the DS, and it was pretty cool. Since then Crayola has come to the Wii in the form of the recently released Crayola: Colorful Journey. After taking some time to sit and play with the game with my two kids I would have to say that coloring using the Wii Remote is not that bad of an experience at all, but there are a few bumps on the way.

In Crayola: Colorful Journey you take on the role(s) of Fillup and Violet who venture through Crayola Land. Actually, in simple terms, you are the designer of their world. I will get more into this in a bit. Crayola Land is basically a coloring book that the two kids have been transported into where some evil force is taking the color away from the rest of the world and it is up to you to bring it back. Makes sense as this is a game based on coloring and crayons.

Ok, back to that whole “designer of their world” comment. In Colorful Journey you do not actually control Fillup or Violet, as they move on their own. What you do is draw objects, or color items, in order for our two heroes to continue on their adventure along their preset path. As they make their way through the various levels you are in charge of making sure they get from point A to point B safely. This is where the puzzle elements of the game take over as you must figure out the best way to reach their goal.

The Wii Remote is well suited for this game as it takes on the role of the crayon. You simply point it at the screen, press the A button and draw whatever object you think needs to be drawn. The lines on screen turn into solid objects that Fillup and Violet can walk on. Should you mess up, you can simply erase your line/object by pressing the B button and moving your Wii Remote over what you want to erase. In many ways it is that simple.

As I played Colorful Journey, both by myself and with my kids, a few things became very evident as I played. The first off was the difficulty. I think that on the medium (normal) setting a lot of young children will find themselves struggling more then they would like. Fillup and Violet will keep walking no matter what, and it will take a bit of time, and smarts, to figure out what you have to draw in order for them to keep going. Fail and it can feel quite frustrating. On the easy setting our heroes actually stop in front of the hazards they face allowing those who are playing the time to create the path needed. The latter is of course more geared towards the real young ones in the house, but the regular settings, which are for more advanced, seems to be out of place given the target audience of this game.

The second thing I noted, which is both a blessing and a curse, was the length of each level in the game. They were much longer then I had anticipated. For a game like this I thought the levels would be short and sweet, but alas they were longer then I initially gave the game credit for. On one hand it is pretty cool as the game has a bit of length to it; however on the other hand, and again given the target audience, a lot of kids may not have the patience or the attention span to really appreciate the work that went into each level’s length. In many ways shorter and more levels may have been the way to go here. This was every evident as my 4 ½ year old was really enamored by her initial time with each level, but as time went by she started to ask me when the level was going to be over so she could do another. As for my 2 ½ year old, lets just say he was happy to hang on to the Wii Remote as that is as good as it gets for him.

There is more then just the story for the little ones to play too. This involves what the name Crayola is associated with: crayons and coloring. Colorful Journey encourages repeated play through, and exploration, in the form of unlockables. Given that this game has the Crayola name on it there are different crayons for you to unlock. There are around 64 different colored crayons for you to look for, and once discovered you add it to your collection of crayons. There is also an in-game coloring book for kids to color at their leisure. What is great about this is that they do not have to worry about it being a one shot thing as once they are done coloring and they want to start again, or change it, it is simple as a few button presses to start with a fresh canvas. The only negative here is that there are could have been more things to color, but hey that is just me getting picky here.

There is no doubt that Colorful Journey is colorful, however it is not as bright or vibrant as I would have expected. Given the source material for the game, I thought it would have literally jumped off the screen. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of use of color, which is a good thing, but given how bright other games are, especially those geared towards kids, this one just seemed to lack some of oomph in this area. As for the level design, I was pretty impressed with them given the nature of the story. Each level has a unique feel to it and there is some pretty good use of interactivity in terms of what you have to ‘draw’ to move the game along. As for the main characters in the game, they move quite smoothly and are animated pretty well. I did not notice any graphical issues that hampered the enjoyment or playability of this game. Overall Colorful Journey is a kid looking game that manages to put forth some pretty solid, but not over achieving, visuals.

The best way to explain the sound in the game is cute and kid friendly. Given the nature of the game, and those that it is targeted at, Colorful Journey gets it all right in this area. From the boppy music which suits the gameplay, to the platform centric sound effects, all manage to help the game sound as it should. Sure, it won’t take down such classics as Mario Galaxy to the floor, but what it does present is solid enough that you won’t cover your ears. Besides, kids love cute sounds and music, and that is what they get here.

Crayola: Colorful Journey is really suited for the Nintendo Wii, as the control scheme lends itself so well to the platform. With some pretty solid graphics, adequate sound, and some surprising gameplay elements, this game definitely will surprise many; however, the difficulty level may be a little too much for the wee little ones. At the end of the day though, this just gives parents a reason to sit down and enjoy a little videogame fun with their kids. Now excuse me, I have to go as my daughter wants me to come and play Colorful Journey with her again.

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