Children’s games and WiiWare – a coupling that hasn’t really been explored. Well, that was the case until Lexis Numérique released Learning With the PooYoos Episode 1 on the WiiWare service. Designed for children between the ages of 3-6, this game set out to captivate the minds of the youngest gamers, but did it succeed?
The first thing that struck us when learning with the PooYoos first loaded up was just how sharp it looks. Now, we know there is not a lot going on in this title, but the standards of appearances are simply fantastic. This is exactly the sort of vibrancy and colour that appeals to the target audience, and even those younger. In fact, insofar as appearances go, this is to a much higher standard than a lot of the TV shows aimed at this audience. By the same token, the audio narration in the game is of high quality; likewise is the soundtrack, which is full of catchy music (especially the bit where you dance with the rabbits!)
Probably the biggest mistake Lexis Numérique could have made when crafting the PooYoos experience would have been to make this more of a game than a piece of children’s entertainment; in the 3’s-6’s age group there are very few budding young gamers out there, and thus many games are rendered unplayable by children. Thankfully, they’ve avoided this trap. What has been done to achieve this is that the level of interaction required has been brought down significantly when compared to your conventional console game. That’s not to say the game is not engaging and doesn’t encourage activity, it’s just that a lot of the actions aren’t essential, or at least require only loosely accurate moves.
Obviously the episodic content of this title (and the fact that it only costs 500 points) means that there’s not an overly exhaustive amount of content here. There are two themes in episode 1: water and air. Water features an elephant as the playable character; land, a rabbit. Each of these themes consists of three activities: water has a balloon popping game, a dance and a sailing boat trip; air has a cloud shape-matching game, a different dance and a hot air balloon ride. Both sets of activities will take the child around 15 minutes here, so we essentially have 30 minutes of content; however, children have the desire to want to play things over and over, so longevity in terms of the 500 points-worth shouldn’t be viewed as an issue.
As previously mentioned, learning with the PooYoos has a control set designed for children, so is easy to get to grips with; although you can choose between ‘little’ and ‘big’ PooYoo, which does affect the complexity of controls. If you had one of the younger gamers playing this one, you’d set it to little PooYoo so that the actions required are minimalistic, but if you wanted it to be more challenging, you’d set it to big PooYoo – e.g. in the bubble pop game, all a little PooYoo needs to is shake the Wiimote, but in the big PooYoo game, you must point at the bubbles and press . Essentially, it is this and the cloud game where there is any significant difference between the control difficulties – the dancing and balloon/boat ride games do not actually require any actions; various on-screen effects are caused by the actions (confetti falls when shaking the Wiimote, and different objects appear on-screen when pressing buttons), but none are essential. Ideally, this is the sort of game you’d want to play with the child – helping them and joining in with the activities (the game insists you dance with the PooYoos) for a truly rewarding experience.
The three activities in each theme are repeated a few times during each playthough (which, considering the target audience here, is pretty ideal), and during the breaks inbetween he learning aspect of the game kicks in through a series of questions (what colour were the bubbles? How many PooYoos were dancing? What colour is the cloud?) These are nice additions, and we can see how they could facilitate learning, but after playing through the episodes a few times, we noticed that the events in the game follow a predetermined path: the bubbles will always be green, there will always be three PooYoos and the clouds are always white. A more random system of generating what is learnt would have probably made it feel less like Distractions with the PooYoos.
Learning with the PooYoos Episode 1 is a strong step in the right direction for children’s titles. The visuals are truly fantastic, the characters are something that most kids (and adults, for that matter) will find eminently likeable, and the audio is of a very decent quality. With 30 minutes of content, this title will rely a lot of the child’s enjoyment of repetition, but the same can be said about most TV shows. The only true fault we can find here is that the learning aspect of the title is weak; with a few select words being taught and no variety each time through, there’s not that much capacity for the audience to learn. Nevertheless, this is a strong step in the right direction, and a title the developers should be proud of. With further episodic content on the way, a few tweaks here and there could make the PooYoos a breakthrough in the children’s market. A good investment for 500 points if you’ve got the right audience for it.
But would a person with the mind of a six year old enjoy this? I'm being completely serious, just so you know.
What an excellent review! Well done indeed. And kudos to the developers for going so strong with the presentation aspect. If you wanna do it, you better do it right!
I have kids aged 3 to 6!
Think my little girl , three, would like it. My six year old lad MAY be interested for a short while. He prefers the CD Rom type educational games. Only thing is, I tend to get games like this on my PC AS PC CD Roms (as I've just mentioned) as the kids need to learn how to use the PCs competently, as much as learn from the software.
Still, for 500, may download this to check it out, lol
7 eh? Might be worth a look if it hits NA. Usually stuff like this is crap, but hey things happen.
Nethertheless? Maybe you haven't played this game enough.. haha..
@Wiiloveit, with a few beers, quite possibly.
@LEGEND MARIOID, You're right; a six year old boy might not be too engrossed with this one (but the dances are quite funny)
@mushroomer, You have to allow this writer his indulgences in obsolete words (FYI, nevertheless, used to be recognised as a word, and I, for one, think there is a rather charming appeal in using it)
Great review. I may download for my four year old cousin. The part about the learning aspect was a bit of a buzzkill, though. Still, the activities may be a bit too hard for the self-proclaimed "hardcore". Which, coincidently, makes it perfect for children.
i thought this would get a horid review
but hey, if a game works, why hate it?
Nevertheless is still recognized as a word.
This game looks "Poo"!
@Radio Shadow, the visuals in this one are fantastic. It looks sublime!
And Nevertheless is in a bit of debate about its validity as a word - it's kind of akin to writing to-day instead of today.
"the bubbles will always be green, there will always be three PooYoos and the clouds are always white."
Total spoiler! White clouds, who would've guessed it? Thanks for the review.
I played some of this game with Tom when he was reviewing it. It's actually remarkably fun. I think it would possibly even got an 8 were it not for the debatable level of actual 'learning' content (the game is called 'Learning with the PooYoos' after all). For £4/5 you really can't go wrong.
This game is "PooPoo" in my book, not interested
Nevertheless, I applaud NL for being open-minded enough not to completely bash it for targeting young children and not being a "gamer's game".
Good review--very informative. Out of curiosity, did you play this alone, or with a child? I'm curious as to whether or not someone who plays the game with a child would have any unique insights to add in addition to what you wrote.
My 3-year-old loves this. As yet she can only read half a dozen letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1,2,3 so I was concerned she wouldn't cope with a computer game. I was wrong; it is superbly designed for those who can't yet read. The controls are very easy in "Little PooYoo" mode, with only three commands; press the cross (any pad direction) or press the circle (A button) or shake the controller. For example, press the cross or circle to match an animal with its outline, or shake the controller to burst balloons. The games are short with a lot of variety; essentially you get two 15-minute games, each with 3 subgames and an animated dance video. There's a "Big PooYoo" mode which has proper point-and-click controls for early schoolchildren. You do need to be able to read to get the game to start, though; my daughter wouldn't be able to turn on the Wii and load it up on her own. We're both looking forward to the next episode (in particular, my daughter wants to play as the Panda; in Ep 1 you only get the Rabbit or Elephant).
this game is awesome children have a short attention span normally so the short bits of game play is just right for the age group my daughter absolutely loves this game
I feel sorry for the reviewer who got this game, and had to play it to the end. rofl xD
I thought people said that all educatinal video games suck! Look at Donkey Kong Jr. Math! It's horrible!
Wow, I'm so amazed that anyone actually liked this game. We downloaded it the other night for our 3-year-old because of the wonderful reviews and comments. It took her about 30 minutes to play the whole thing through (on the Big Poo Yoo level), and that was it. She enjoyed the shape-matching and dancing, but the balloon-popping and balloon and boat rides were too boring, even for a toddler. She has had no desire to replay it, and I can't blame her. There is absolutely nothing educational here. I wish I could get my 500 points back, quite frankly.
Agree with barbalib. There's pretty much no educational value. Pretty much all the kids are asked to do is shake the remote or push random buttons. There's nothing particularly cognitive about this. The animals are certainly cute and it may keep interest for a time, but that's about it. I have a 5 and 3 year old and I was expecting some sort of letter and number practice, but there's none. Ignore the 3-6 age recommendations, it's probably more for 2-3 year olds.
PooYoos has been very popular in our household.
I agree that educational value is low, that games are simplistic, and that the target age should stick to the 3-4 range rather than 5-6. However... we were ok with that. The developmental difference between those age ranges is significant, and we appreciate having something that very little people can enjoy.
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