Mike the Knight and the Great Gallop is unashamedly a game for the young 'uns. Based on the animated TV show it consists of an original storyline played out over nine mini-games; these are interspersed with cut-scenes depicting Mike's adventure complete with a whimsical narrator. Jumping straight in, our story centres on young Mike as he attempts to save Glendragon Village from a bunch of pesky Vikings, and the fun begins when Mike's mum asks him to do the Great Gallop with Galahad. Admittedly we're not entirely certain what that actually means, but what we can tell you is as the story progresses Mike gets himself into various bothersome situations which are all solved by beating one of the aforementioned mini-games.
The first of these is your standard pipe building puzzler – simply rotate pieces of (pre-laid) pipe to create a point-to-point chute. There's no time limit, so kids can take as long as they want. The selected difficulty level dictates how complex the puzzle is, and most can be solved with some trial and error and a little help from the parents if necessary.
The second game sees Mike lining up jam tarts to ward off the Vikings (obviously) so the villagers can get on with partying hard at the Great Gallop festival. In this game the task is to lay blueberry and raspberry tarts out onto an oven tray. This premise translates into what is essentially Connect 4 with jam tarts, taking turns to make your move against Sparkie the dragon. It doesn't matter how good your performance is - even if you lose to your fire-breathing friend the narrator tells you 'well done!' and it's onto the next game.
And so it continues, with each mini-game being a variation of something familiar: bouncing Vikings across a beach plays out like a modern take on Game & Watch, ditto for matching items rolling down conveyor belts to the correct characters waiting at the end. There's a find the pairs game, a rhythm game that's not actually played to the rhythm (bash the notes correctly as depicted by a number, not in time with the music) a clear crib on Whack-a-mole and a kind of Candy Crush-esq Jar matching game. The disappointing finale sees Mike attempting to capture flying letters in a bug-net.
Given that this game is aimed at kids up to 6 years old (that's the suggested target age group of CBeebies where this show currently airs) it's difficult to critique this game from a solely adult point of view. However, parents looking at whether or not to make a purchase should note the story mode can be completed in about twenty minutes. Now we all know kids love a bit of repetition, now we all know kids love a bit of repetition (see what we did there), but with only one story it could get old very quickly. Additionally it seems rather odd that your child will be told 'well done' even when failing at one of the games; perhaps that's what responsible parenting involves.
Another weird 'feature' comes to light in a couple of the mini-games; they can carry on forever unless you fail on purpose which is a really odd design choice – it would make more sense to have a target score on the offending games.
Freeplay mode allows your child to pick and choose which mini-games to play and each game has its own scoreboard to keep them challenging themselves. With three available difficulty levels you can at least ensure the going isn't too tough for those just starting out on their 2DS / 3DS journey, but equally allows you to switch it up for the older ones.
There's a minor touch of stereoscopic 3D, but as all the games are played out on the bottom touchscreen it's a pointless little flourish that is so hardly noticeable it's not worth bothering with. Presentation overall is nice enough, the theme tune plays happily on the title screen and the visuals are clean and easy to understand.
For a Mike the Knight fan this could provide some entertainment; that said prospective purchasers should note the short length of the game, the rather paltry nine mini-games and the simplicity of the overall package when considering a purchase. It is these reasons that have informed the average score at the bottom of the page. Note that for the purpose of this review we couldn't find a young test subject to play the game with, so please do let us know in the comments if you have any feedback from a child's perspective. For now, we'll be sticking to something more grown-up - where did we put that copy of Animal Crossing?