Review: Tales to Enjoy! The Ugly Duckling (DSiWare)

A load of quack

Another Tales to Enjoy game? Yep, we regret to inform you that it’s true. But this time it’s the most repulsive of all…The Ugly Duckling. If you haven’t been following along as of late, Tales to Enjoy is a series of games that uses the same exact interface and activities, but swaps out one fairly tale or fable for another. Sounds like it could be wholesome entertainment for the littlest of kids, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, even though it may be enough to hold your child’s attention for a little while, the fact is, this series hasn’t been put together very well.

Let’s start with the main course, which is the story of The Ugly Duckling. Selecting the first option from the menu whisks you off into an 'interactive' storybook. The top screen features text, and on the bottom are images to accompany the story, all the while a voice actor reads out-loud to the user. It sounds good on paper, but it just isn’t executed well. The actor often skips whole sentences or leaves words out, there's frequent loading at the most absurd times, and the artwork is pretty hideous on the eyes, with very little, if any, interaction for the user.

Outside of that there are seven other activities to partake in, some just slight variations of another. Tell Your Own Story allows the children to flip through the pages of the story without any words. Objects and characters can be touched with the stylus and their names will be stated verbally. This could potentially make for a decent exercise in imagination if your child can handle the lack of direction. Then there are simple 9-piece puzzles, find the differences, and elementary games of memory. None of these activities features proper instruction, so if you were expecting this to be your child’s introduction to videogames, anticipate walking them through every mode.

At a two dollar price point we imagine taking a chance on one of these games isn’t the biggest risk, but we’d still recommend investing those dollars in something like Lola’s Alphabet Train or even an accessible game on your smartphone. Let’s just say, there shouldn’t have been four Tales to Enjoy games released so closely together. The efforts divided among multiple projects should have been focused on making one competent title, instead. But regrettably, that’s not how it went down.

Conclusion

The title of the series suggests we should be enjoying these tales, but in reality they’re barely enjoyable at all. Sluggish performance, poorly designed activities, and a lack of instructions make for a crude experience. That’s not to say that some of the youngest tykes won’t draw a little entertainment from the package, but we’d still assuredly recommend that you let this series flap on by unnoticed. A traditional storybook or other tangible activities should make for more pleasurable and rewarding alternatives. If there is one thing that’s been honestly advertised, it’s that The Ugly Duckling sure is ugly.