Gummy Bears: Magical Medallion is in no way, shape or form meant for adults. This is a Wii title aimed solely at children, aged five and under. While it's a safe purchase for parents who are looking to entertain their young children with age-appropriate games, it's not particularly enjoyable. Even young children will be able to see through the awful quality of this budget title from Storm City Games, and if you're looking to entertain your kids, there are far better Nintendo Wii titles.
Storm City Games has excelled at publishing budget-priced games on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. I have yet to play a game they've published that I actually enjoy, and Gummy Bears: Magical Medallion certainly follows in that awful tradition of poor design, bland layout, and subpar copycat style that seems to be the calling card for every game from this studio.
On its surface, Gummy Bears seems like any run-of-the-mill 2-D platforming adventure. The character models and backgrounds are all rendered in 3-D with a 2-D camera view, so you'll get some limited movement from the background artwork, and the stages will occasionally include paths that wrap around background structures. To give you an idea of what this effect looks like, this element reminds me of the Klonoa remake on the Wii from a few years ago. That's about the only noteworthy thing that Gummy Bears has going for it; everything else about this game is about as dull as a butter knife.
Take, for instance, the actual design of the gummy bear characters. If you told me they were just supposed to be teddy bears instead of the gummy candy variety, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. They come in a variety of colors, some of which need to be unlocked, but there's no candy-like property to them. They don't bounce, expand or retract like you might think gummy candy would. When they take a long fall, they don't have any interesting animation that incorporates their malleable property, and there's nothing in the game that makes use of their stretchy consistency in any way. The only reason these bears are dubbed gummy, I'm assuming, is because kids like candy, and adults might have fond memories of the old Disney cartoon of the same name.
The world you'll explore as your gummy bear of choice is pretty bland for something that calls itself Candy Land. The old board game has more charm and better art direction than anything in this title. For instance, take the enemies that you run into; very few can actually be defeated but are in place for you to jump over and dodge rather than smash into the ground. You've got muffins, donuts, little flies that toss blue things at you, candy cane spikes, multicolored towers that tumble from the background to the foreground, and some other nondescript foes. Why do muffins inhabit a world called Candy Land? What are the little blue things that explode in a puff a smoke? Who knows?! The game certainly doesn't seem to, and for a world labeled as Candy Land, it seems oddly devoid of candy.
The main villain, King Sour Berry, doesn't even make an appearance in the game aside from some very limited 2-D artwork. You have no boss battles, either against him or his minions, even though that's generally a staple of 2-D platformers. The game only makes use of three worlds, divided into four stages apiece, and three challenge stages cap off each world. The challenge stages are sort of like the bonus worlds in Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country series in that they involve a time limit and a goal to collect as many of a particular item as possible. All of these stages, collection and regular, are devoid of any challenge. Granted, the game is intended for young children, who may find the game to be more challenging, but I think most kids will be able to make their way through this game in a few hours. Even though the game is priced at $20, it's not a very good value if you tend to be a little frugal in purchasing video games for your children.
The only real difficulty in the game comes from collecting all the items strewn about the stages. There are a number of collectible fruit items to find, and the number varies from stage to stage. Once again, why there's fruit instead of candy is beyond me, but the game isn't particularly mindful about its core themes. Also, there are a number of coins on each stage to collect, and netting 100 percent completion for the stage might unlock one of the 13 achievements or a new gummy bear character color.
There's not much else to see or do in Gummy Bears: Magical Medallion, but there are two minigames. These are found in the core game, and solving them unlocks a door that's blocking your path. One is a puzzle game involving six pieces of a very basic puzzle design that you must fit together, using the Wii Remote as a pointer device, to form an image. While you might encounter this puzzle game six or seven times, there is only a handful of puzzle artwork through which it cycles.
The other minigame is a game of memory, with a number of cards facedown that you select and flip over, revealing an image that you need to match to another image on the playing field. We've all played this game before, and the concept is the same, but with unlimited tries. One really annoying aspect of this particular minigame is that once you clear a set of cards, their slot on the screen still sticks around, invisible to the user. When you get down to two cards, it can be a little difficult to actually locate the position of your selector. You navigate between the facedown cards using the d-pad on the Wii remote, so once you clear away a lot of the cards, you need to constantly tap left, right, up or down to figure out where your selector is before you can highlight the last couple of cards to flip. This could be alleviated by automatically forcing my selection to the next available facedown card, but that would clearly involve more thought and effort than this game had.
From a visual standpoint, the game looks poor; the texture work is nearly nonexistent, with no definition other than a flat color between walls, ground, enemies and your gummy bear character. There's nothing interesting or noteworthy about the sound design, which is full of flat little cues for picking up coins or other objects, running into enemies, and so on. The only thing I found a little odd about the soundtrack was that there are elements that remind me of Dragon Quest, which is actually a positive comparison, but the same tracks are repeated so often that the novelty and enjoyment wears off quickly.
For a game as basic as Gummy Bears, it occasionally has an odd glitch. One that I encountered numerous times involved my gummy bear getting stuck about halfway through an object, usually after being hit by an enemy. When this occurred, it forced me to reset the stage, making an already poor experience worse.
As a parent selecting games for your kids to play, you can certainly do a lot better than Gummy Bears: Magical Medallion. Nintendo does a far better job of creating kid-appropriate games that fans of all ages can enjoy, instead of pandering to preschoolers. The developers failed to make a product worthy of that age group, and I think most young kids will realize that this is a bad game after a few minutes of gameplay. Don't let the bright, colorful cover art fool you into a poor purchasing decision; the artwork doesn't convey the awful design sensibilities and the poor platforming adventure contained within the box.
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