5 Years of Us!
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100% completion is something every gamer strives for, the thought of seeing everything in a game and being acknowledged as such is a great honour. Often, hundreds of hours will go into achieving this feat. Dora Saves The Mermaids!, however, showed us literally everything it had in under 15 minutes.
It’s important to say that we recognise that this game is not aimed at us, but taking skill level and age into account, we still can’t see the average pre-schooler stretching this out for more than an hour. It’s a collection of simple mini-games, none of which are thought-provoking or educational in the slightest, and is so lazily put together that even a sloth with its own thought-controlled robot slave and an endless bowl of Wotsits could bang it together in less than half an hour. Worse yet, the only text is the credits, which contain over 70 names when we’ve produced better game during a five-minute go on WarioWare DIY. (All the instructions are relayed via. the speakers/headphones, which is as bad an idea as it sounds: Sat in a busy place? Have Dora-hating parents? You can’t play. A huge oversight.)
The game is incredibly repetitive, with the same five (Still repetitive) mini-games being repeated four times each, every time with a slightly different theme, so, say, one time you might be touching poorly-drawn sea shells and the next it’ll be ‘garbage’ that looks more like an adolescent snail going through a state of depression, only they couldn’t find any cyanide pills so instead they opted to try and kill themselves with boat loads of their own excrete.
All five mini-games are poor, but none more so than the ‘Say this’ one that uses the DS microphone. It’s so unresponsive that upon being asked to count to 10 in Spanish, we gave up after ‘bainty-dos’ attempts at ‘Tres’, realising that you can instead blow into the microphone to get the ideal result. If we had to pick, the best of the bunch is the ‘platforming’ sections, which are still fundamentally broken (There’s nothing to do stop you just forever going into the logs you’re suppose to swim around, for example) and involves absolutely no skill besides the basic ability to prod in the general direction of a rather large arrow button, which most foetuses develop within two months of conception. The educational content is at absolute zero and it’s also mind-numbingly dull.
Special mention has to go to the ‘Catfish! Dogfiiish!’ game that apparently goes down well with children thanks to the silly animals and anything with a vague trace of humour (They have dogs and cats heads on the bodies of fish. Hilarious.) apparently causes all kids to explode with laughter like the audience in Harry Hills’ TV Burp when he mentions a reoccurring joke. Perhaps it needs the jokes to stop the kids from crying at arguably the most tedious mini-game ever created. Think the one in Super Mario 64 DS (A 6-year-old game from back in the days when nobody could properly use the hardware) where you have to prod the right face, but instead of hovering on the screen, these ‘fish’ swim across horizontally over and over until you get five right. However, the game is programmed to make the one you’re looking for less common to the point that two of the fifteen minutes it took to finish this game were taken waiting for one bloody Cowfish to appear.
Funny as that Cowfish may or may not have been, the only laughing we found ourselves doing was at the people that bought this game, spending thirty of their hard-earned English pounds on an experience that is about as educational and enjoyable as riding a bike up Mount Snowden, totally naked, whilst a short, fat bearded man smears his own fresh diarrhoea into your face every third minute. Actually, that’s a lie. At least that way you’ll discover how clever Cavemen must of been to think of wearing rags.
Of these seven marks, six comes from the way that it makes your little DS shriek "DRAW CIRCLES AROUND ME TO TURN ME INTO A MERMAID!". The other is simply because it comes in a box.
Developer: Black Lantern
FUN FACT: The people who made this game are not only evil, but also behind some other poor DS efforts, such as Wizards of Waverly Place and three further Dora titles. However, their most recent effort is the suprisingly decent Poroit: ABC Murders.