Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: October 27, 2008
Video games for little kids are a hard thing to come by. Most people think that the previous statement isn't true because the market, especially on the Nintendo Wii, seems to be flooded with games intended for the younger gaming demographic, such as titles that feature popular characters from kids' TV shows and movies. However, these games all rely on a few basic rules that assume the player understands a few things in order to get some enjoyment out of the game. For example, they all require that the user has basic reading comprehension skills, enjoys some level of difficulty in the gameplay, and is proficient enough to handle somewhat-complicated control schemes.
While this may apply to players six years of age and above, very few gamers younger than this could fit into that description. For these players, games only serve to frustrate since they will not be able to get past the first level due to an unintentional obstacle or other. Seeing that there is a need for a market aimed at these very young players, High Voltage Software has created Go, Diego, Go! Great Dinosaur Rescue for the Wii, an adventure game for very young children. While older gamers and some parents will cringe at the very existence of this game, the target audience will have a great time with this very accessible title.
Fans of the titular Nick Jr. character will find that the plot is exactly what would be found in an actual episode of the show. While visiting a museum with his sister, Diego and Baby Jaguar come across a dinosaur exhibit. One dinosaur in particular stands out because of its backstory. This dinosaur helped protect the rest of her family by creating a wall that prevented the other dinosaurs from catching up and harming them. As a result of her heroic efforts, however, she becomes separated from her family and is lost. Feeling sorry for the animal, Diego and company travel back in time to help her out. As Diego, your mission is to help this dinosaur find her family and, along the way, help other dinosaurs find their kin as well.
The main single-player game is a combination of platforming and driving. As Diego, you climb objects, push or lift things, and jump over gaps to collect badges and find lost dinosaurs or other items needed to complete a quest. While you do most of the action, your friends will also jump in and help out. Baby Jaguar, for example, can climb trees or explore caverns and bushes to fetch objects while your trusty backpack can transform into anything you need to make it through obstacles or different types of terrain.
Great Dinosaur Rescue has two things that stand out above all else: It's easy and it's repetitive. There are no enemies on-screen to kill, so there's no fear of ever seeing a "game over" screen. The game also places barriers and other things to prevent a player from reaching the bottom of a pit. There has never been a time when Diego could fall because every jump made is sure to land the player exactly where he needs to be. Because of this, it's fairly easy to finish all five levels thrown at you. Also, the only thing you ever do is collect stamps and objects. Even during the driving levels, all you get to do is collect more stamps for badges. All of this makes for a game that will bore older players to tears, but it's perfect for a younger audience because there is no way for them to fail an objective and, after some time, they will get to know what to do since they are told exactly what to do over and over again.
The multiplayer portion of Great Dinosaur Rescue is a bit simple but fun. Taking the driving portions as the basis for multiplayer, the game becomes a race to collect the most objects before reaching the end. Winners are determined not by who reached the finish line first but by who collected enough objects to earn a better medal. The other multiplayer mode in the game isn't mentioned much, but it's a big help in single-player mode. Anytime the player is doing anything in the game, a second player can jump in with a different Wiimote and emulate the action on-screen, helping the player get stuff done faster. It's a great way for older players to help out younger ones without having to rip the controller from their hands.
The controls for the game are very simple, which is perfect for the target audience. Using only the Wiimote held NES style, all the user has to do to make Diego move is tilt the Wiimote left or right, while jumping and other content specific actions are done by either hitting the 2 button by itself or moving the Wiimote in the given direction. You can jump to make Diego jump with a pogo stick, do a lifting motion to lift rocks, or wag the remote to scare off the Silly Dinos. All of these actions are presented with sizeable on-screen prompts, which makes it easy for players to figure out what to do. As simple as the controls are, they are also very responsive, which is something that even some games made for older gamers can't seem to do right.
For the most part, the graphics are very good. The game employs some cel-shading that does produce some jaggies around each character but gives it a more cartoon-like feel. The graphics move at a smooth clip, and although not much is ever happening in the background, the bright colors make the world seem more vibrant. About the only issue here has to do with a few cut scenes, especially the introduction. For some reason, instead of using the game engine, it goes to a movie of the game engine being used before going to a few still shots of actual animation, presumably from the episode. The title then starts using the in-game engine for the rest of the scenes. While younger gamers might not care about this, it is something to note.
Depending on how you feel about the series, the sound for Great Dinosaur Rescue can either be grating or awesome. Both the music and the sound effects fit the dinosaur theme nicely, and there's nothing that would sound out of place or too frightening for young gamers. All of the voices come straight from the series, which lends to some familiarity since they sound exactly like the TV show characters. Younger fans will love this, though older fans can find the voices annoying since they speak in a sing-along fashion and at a very high pitch.
Go, Diego, Go! Great Dinosaur Rescue for the Wii is not a game meant for anyone age six or above. The lack of challenge and short gameplay, combined with constant repetition, will see to it that those players become very bored very quickly. It is for these same reasons, however, that this title can be considered very good for the younger set of gamers. Coupled with the mostly well-executed presentation, and you have a title that can guarantee these players some fun times ahead, especially if they are fans of the series. It's definitely a good choice for the younger gamer.