(DSiWare)

Game Review

Did It Myself ABC123 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Zach Kaplan

Baby boon

Toddlers: they're everywhere. Don't believe us? Next time you're on a busy street, just play a little game that we like to call "Spot the Toddler". Some estimate that about 130 million babies are born every year, making them more popular than iPods! But these trendy tots are more than just a fashion statement. They need food, physical contact and, most importantly, downloadable video games. The DSiWare catalogue's been bereft of anything suitable for this milk-gulping market, but here comes Did It Myself ABC123 to fill the void and give it a good burping.

This mentally stimulating toy has everything that a child of about the age of two or three could want. It includes five activities corresponding to some of the more prominent preschool educational categories: letters, numbers, colours, music and drawing. It's wonderful that the developers included the latter two as many consider art and the fostering of creativity to be just as important as the more traditional basics.

The alphabet section displays a letter on the top screen, and you click the matching character below. Selecting a letter triggers a delightful soundbite of a child reciting it, and when you pick the correct one, it transforms into an animated object that proceeds out of view. You're able to pick just what this animated item is at the mini-game's beginning, so whether your child prefers cars, trains, horses, birds, fish or dinosaurs, there's something here for everyone.

The numbers game displays one of the above listed objects, again of your choosing, travelling in a group across the touch screen. An amount of outlines decorate the top portion; you click these objects, thus filling the latter, each time with another cute recording of a child saying the number. You're able to alter the highest numeral that the game is allowed to count to on a scale of one to ten, so you can adjust for your own child's particular skill level. The colours game operates almost identically, requiring the child to identify the correct object for reward.

The music function displays a single octave xylophone, complete with the corresponding letter of the music scale written on each bar. The top screen displays a music scale on which each note appears in the colour of the key. There's an option to play freely, the symbols appearing on the top as you utilise them, or to tap along with one of five common children's songs.

Drawing mode allows you to paint with the stylus, using the directional pad to pick your colour and brush size. You're limited to a circular brush, nine hues and eight spans, and your paints overlap each other like watercolours. After your child is finished, he or she can export their creation to the DSi Photo Album.

The presentation is spectacular, with bright, attractive colours and a smooth, charming style of illustration similar to that of a children's book. The music is pleasant and catchy, though it only plays on the menu screens. Transitions from one thing to the next run smoothly and quickly, squeezing in the charm without delaying the fun. The sound effects are delightful, including the array of vocal samples and those that accompany the object sets utilised in the letters, numbers and colours exercises – honking cars, growling dinosaurs and the like. These you can play repeatedly to your heart's content, as toddlers are prone to do, by pressing A, B, X or Y.

Navigation's a cinch here, with each game represented on the menu by an image rather than a title and the ability to exit any activity at any time by pressing Start or Select. You can either play these one at a time or mixed together in Shuffle mode, which definitely comes in handy – we even caught ourselves having a bit of a hard time putting it down as it smartly switched from one activity to the next. You're also able to customise the amount of rounds per game, games per shuffle, and general speed (slow, medium, fast or ridiculous).

We did find that the programme had some flaws, however. There's no way to up the ante in the colour game so that the square on which the name is printed does not match the hue itself, and while hearing it spoken out loud, we felt that more could be gained by this challenge. For example, "orange" will always come on an orange card, and so on, which is fine for the very youngest, but it would be nice to have the option of switching it up for more advanced learners. It would also add a level of quality to the letter game if it included a picture of something that begins with the character rather than the character by itself. We're not saying that this method is flawed as it would still benefit the target audience, one that barely knows what a letter is, but the option would still be welcome. There's also no way to learn from this game the order of the alphabet. Finally, the painting mode is fun but could stand to gain from an added bit of complexity.

Conclusion

This program is the next best thing to Sesame Street that you can get for 200 DSi Points. While slightly limited in some areas, it includes a great amount of simple, fun activities that any toddler could enjoy, presented in an attractive and entertaining style.

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User Comments (29)

SMEXIZELDAMAN

#1

SMEXIZELDAMAN said:

OMG I so gotta get this...when I get some extra points....err not for me...uhh...David Jr. would love it..... ;)

jkgatling

#5

jkgatling said:

Who in the unholy name of Cronos buys their toddler a DSi?!!! even I dont have a DSi!!!!

Ernest_The_Crab

#7

Ernest_The_Crab said:

I almost thought from the headline that the game turned out to be bad.

It's nice to know there are developers making some good games for the toddlers too.

Adam

#9

Adam said:

Best first paragraph in Nintendo Life first paragraph history.

brandonbwii

#11

brandonbwii said:

Should I get this for my cousin? He's five and I think interactive entertainment like this may help him.

Zach

#14

Zach said:

Thanks all for the nice comments! @brandonbwii, you might want to consider how simple the exercises here are as it's really intended for 2-3 year olds. As everyone develops differently, though, you'll have to be the judge, so hopefully there's enough information here to inform your decision.

Sylverstone

#15

Sylverstone said:

First paragraph is full of WIN

And I'm glad you looked at it from a parent's perspective, no bias or whatnot. ;)

8/10 deserved!

iphys

#18

iphys said:

I wonder if there's any hope a toddler would actually have the hand-eye to use a DSi. It seems like it would be too small for their clumsy little hands.

grumblegrumble

#19

grumblegrumble said:

For 200 points, this release fills a need in the dsiware lineup and it's cute to boot. The drawing mode is particularly cool, for 200 points that is more than what most 200 point releases offer. lol... Good job!

grumblegrumble

#22

grumblegrumble said:

For the adults here: It's fun to play while on the toilet after an all night binge lol ;) Helps get the mind flowing again. ;)

hithomas

#23

hithomas said:

@iphys - I know a 2(almost 3) year old who can quite happily play through a level of New Super Mario Bros DS without any problems, so some how I can't see touchscreen controls hampering many toddlers attempts to enjoy this game.

nk4ever

#25

nk4ever said:

wow my little one did it himself. he doesnt have a dsi himself but he borrowed mine. what a great game. It has all the stuff to put your feet on the ground. my son cant talk so I didnt know if he could do it. are family was amazed, and proud of that

paperskyx

#26

paperskyx said:

Gah, so lame. I know, I know, it's for little kids. But obviously I'm not going to buy it.

DemonnPrincess

#28

DemonnPrincess said:

So cute! I'm gonna get it for my Nana! I already have the coloring book that I downloaded for myself...WAT!?! >:v

Mariru

#29

Mariru said:

I'm gonna get it for my 2 years old son, he already love his grandfather's smartphone with music & baby apps. I don't have a cellphone, so this will be perfect! He always touch the buttons on my ds when I play so he will be happy :)

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