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Kid Adventures: Sky Captain

Platform(s): Wii
Genre: Action
Publisher: D3Publisher of America
Developer: Torus Games
Release Date: June 15, 2010


Wii Review - 'Kid Adventures: Sky Captain'

by Dustin Chadwell on July 24, 2010 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Kid Adventures: Sky Captain is an action flight game designed for both children and families that enables players to soar across the skies in 40 exciting missions that include sky racing, stunt flying, target shooting, treasure hunting and unlocking flying machines such as a jet plane and UFO.

Kid Adventures: Sky Captain is developed by Torus Games, who was behind other Wii titles like Scooby Doo!: First Frights and Zoo Hospital. This time out, they take to the skies with an airplane game that's intended for a younger demographic. The game uses the Wii motion controls, much like the airplane minigame from Wii Sports Resort. Instead of simply flying around a single island, Kid Adventures: Sky Captain has multiple locations for you to explore. If you want to cover everything the game has to offer, there are a variety of different objectives to complete and 100 special rings to fly through on each island.

It is a pretty simple game and doesn't have the depth that you'd expect from something for an older crowd. Because of that, I found my own interest in the game waning after a few hours of gameplay. It didn't help that the title isn't very challenging. If you crash your airplane, it boots right back up in a relatively safe spot that was close to your original demise, and if you crash out during one of the many objectives, you don't really lose any progress other than a few seconds. Even with all of the objectives being time-based affairs, a few seconds here or there rarely had any impact on my results. Most of the objectives give you unlimited time to finish — aside from the few race-based ones that you'll encounter across the various islands.

Although the game isn't intended for my age group, it's incredibly easy to pick up and play, and I found the simplicity of the game to be pretty engaging. I think kids and adults who have already been subjected to similar games will find this to be a little more exhilarating, especially casual adult gamers who are looking for something to play with their kids without having to worry about in-game content. Kid Adventures: Sky Captain is about as safe as you can get when it comes to a kid-friendly game for all ages. When you shoot down targets, you're simply firing water balloons, so any element of danger is pretty far removed.

Unfortunately, the objectives in Sky Captain become pretty repetitive over time. When you start the game and are introduced to the flight mechanics and the initial island, you learn that there are different challenges scattered around the island. It's easy enough to spot these challenges, which are highlighted with big, bright markers of light. Once you enter through the trigger marker, usually a small hoop with an icon in it, the timer will kick in to let you know the event has started. If you finish the event under a certain time frame, you can win a gold, silver or bronze award. Depending on the award you unlock, you'll gain experience, which causes your player to rank up and possibly unlock other planes or paint jobs to apply to your existing vehicles.

The challenges, however, feature the same objectives over and over again, except with a different location or item. For instance, one objective requires you to buzz your plane low over a certain creature to scare it off. On the first island, you have to buzz sheep that have decided to rest on top of a railroad track, blocking the incoming train from progressing around the island. You have a marker on the top right of the screen to show how many sheep you need to scare off to succeed. You'll fly your plane low over the animals, and they'll make some type of noise (obviously "baa," in this case), and you'll see your count diminish with each successful pass.  When you reach the second island, you'll run into a very similar objective that requires you to fly low over Pterodactyls, with the same result. If the only variation on the event is going to be the type of animal, which provides little difference other than a change in graphic presentation, then what's the point?

There are more objectives that share a similar fate, and by the time you grow bored with the game, you realize it's tricked you into doing the same thing over and over again while only changing a small aspect of the task. For me, the last straw was on the second island, where I was tasked with a series of challenges that required me to collect an item from one point and then carry it to a second point, repeating that step five times before I was done. I was OK with collecting boats and bringing them to stranded pirates. It started to grate on my nerves when I brought eggs to pirates, but when it came to collecting treasure and bringing it to the same pirates, I was ready to give up.

On the positive side, the controls are incredibly simple to pick up and play. Sky Captain only requires you to use the Wii Remote, and you hold it sideways much like a traditional NES controller for Virtual Console titles. This allows you to pitch the control forward and backward to control the dive and climb of the plane, and it also allows you to tilt left or right to control your turns. You can hold down the 2 button to gain speed, the 1 button to brake, and shoot out water balloons with the A button. You can even switch between the third- or first-person perspective by pressing the up button on the d-pad, providing an interesting change of view while flying around the islands.

The other positive thing I wanted to point out was the design of the islands. They're pretty fun to fly around if you don't have to do any challenges, with much of the design featuring different paths that weave inside mountains, underground chambers, and through tightly packed corridors of lava, rock, water or other substances. They're very colorful and bright, and while the game isn't a graphical showcase by any means, these areas are really vibrant. If the islands were a little larger and had a better view distance or draw distance, I could have easily spent more time exploring the locations instead of being bogged down by the boring and repetitive challenges that comprise the meat of the gameplay.

One last thing to note is that Sky Captain features some limited multiplayer, both co-op and versus. This happens via split screen, but the versus mode is little more than tracking down your opponent and firing water balloons. Co-op is more entertaining, but dividing up the screen takes away from the vista of the island, and I'd prefer to just have the full view.

If you're looking for the next kid-friendly game for your young ones, you could do worse than Kid Adventures: Sky Captain. It definitely helps that it's budget-priced, and while that low price point might be a tempting entry for parents, keep in mind that the game seems to have a lot of content on the surface but ends up being a really repetitive experience. The controls and world design are certainly highlights, but the gameplay comes up a little short.

Score: 6.0/10

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