Developer: Phoenix Games Studio
Release Date: February 8, 2005
Of all the characters, franchises, and series available for licensing, it's hard to imagine that anyone would want to make a game based on Winnie the Pooh. Sure, he's a childhood favorite and is somewhat likeable in an "I'm sure glad I'm not Christopher Robin" kind of way, but there are many, many other cartoons and characters out there which would appeal to a broader base of children. To put it mildly, Winnie the Pooh is a bit outdated. However, his name still has star power, he's recognizable, and there are some parents who rightly think that Winnie the Pooh is the most wholesome thing that a child can be exposed to on the Game Boy Advance.
Enter Winnie the Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventure for the GBA. The latest attempt to cash in on Disney's lovable, honey-addicted bear, this game features Winnie the Pooh and his efforts to set the world of the Hundred Acre Wood back on the straight and narrow path of righteousness. To accomplish this feat, he must visit the memories of his friends' birthday parties, and give them whatever it is they happen to need at the moment. There's no doubt that this is a child's game, and if you come in thinking that this is going to be a 20-hour adventure full of intrigue and excitement, you'll leave humbled.
The "Rumbly Tumbly" aspect of Winnie the Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventure is the rumbling of Pooh's tummy. It has nothing to do with tumbling at all, despite what you might think. Instead, the game opens with Pooh sitting in a tree with the long-suffering Christopher Robin. Pooh has a rumbly tumbly, and in order to keep his mind off his hunger, Christopher Robin suggests that he think about some good memories. So Pooh decides to remember some of his friends' birthday parties. In order to do so, he has to go visit the appropriate "scrapbook" of the party he wishes to recall.
Upon reaching a scrapbook, you'll initially discover that it's either open or closed. If open, you can relive that birthday memory and play onward. If closed, you'll first have to experience another scrapbook adventure before it will open. Upon entering the scrapbook, the memory begins and Pooh will have to go through a series of "fetch and return" quests in order to complete the memory.
For example, to complete Piglet's party scrapbook, Pooh will first have to find a key to unlock a gate that is impeding Pooh's progress. After going through the gate, Pooh meets up with Kanga, who tells Pooh that the bridge is out and that he'll need to get a plank to fix the bridge so he can cross. After crossing the bridge, Piglet decides that he needs a broom so he can clean on his birthday. Pooh remembers that Kanga had one, so he heads back to her and grabs one. Each birthday plays out like this, and it gets old really fast.
Pooh moves extraordinarily slow for starters, waddling in a manner that is definitely reminiscent of a stuffed bear that is addicted to honey. This slow pace lengthens the game considerably, but for all the wrong reasons. It's painful to have to run back and forth between areas just because Piglet can't stand having a dirty sty. To make things worse, there's a certain area of each scrapbook that has Heffalumps and Woozles trying to catch Pooh and ruin his birthday memory. Of course, getting caught by the enemies doesn't do any harm at all; Pooh is just warped back to the beginning of the area, and he tries again. To rid the area of the Heffalumps, he has to find a balloon and pop it, which is apparently enough to scare them away.
Also scattered around the game are these "sparkling" items which, when Pooh runs up to them and presses the "A" button, pop out pots of honey. This honey is used to get rid of bees that block Pooh's progress. So not only is it necessary to run back and forth to get various items, you have to make sure to collect the honey so that you can get rid of the bees. It all leads to a bunch of waddling around at a very slow pace.
There is a gopher in each area who periodically pops up and offers a tip or a hint to move things along. In the cartoon, he has the annoying habit of whistling whenever he speaks a word with the letter "s" in it so thankfully that annoying speech impediment is absent in the game. It's definitely a help to younger players, but for a seasoned gamer, it just gets in the way. There's no way to speed up or skip these messages when you encounter them, so they just happen to be annoying.
The graphics are colorful, but are really simplistic. Most of the areas look exactly the same, but the characters are all well done, although the movements of each character are not well animated at all. Pooh seems to have about three frames of animation when he walks around, and so do the Heffalumps which plague Pooh so this game won't win any awards in the graphical department. The sound is just as atrocious. The same "Winnie the Pooh" theme plays in the background throughout the entire game, and while the song is pleasant enough, it will either get stuck in your head or annoy you to the point that you'll turn off the volume completely.
To compound the mediocrity of this game, there is a password system instead of a cartridge-based save. Writing down a lengthy number does nothing to encourage someone to play entirely through the game. To top it off, this game is aimed at children, who really don't feel like writing down a sequence of nine numbers, or may not even know HOW to write down a series of numbers, for that matter. This severely limits the appeal of this game, even for children.
Even though this game does not have very many good points, it might still serve as some entertainment for a child who just wants to sit around and play something on their Game Boy for a little while. It might serve as a distraction for a parent who is desperately seeking a bit of peace and quiet, but as a long-term source of fun, this game will end up being a huge disappointment.
Winnie the Pooh should think about retiring. The beloved bear has given many a child a smile, but in today's fast-paced world of instant rewards and gratification, he feels way outdated. It's sad in a way, like the passing of an old friend who has given so much to the world, but it is unfortunately Pooh's time to go. However, if you are the parent who wants to provide his/her child with something wholesome for the Game Boy Advance, then Winnie the Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventure is it. For everyone else, this is a game to avoid.
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