With gaming becoming more mainstream, companies are starting to cater for a younger market. One company in particular is Games Factory, a publisher whose primary focus right now is on the younger market and they have carved out quite a niche for themselves. It's not often you see kids games built on consoles but that's exactly what GF is doing and we checked out a few recently to see how they stack up. The first is Harvest Time Hop and Fly, a fun kids game which may not necessarily be all that bad for adults either.
Harvest Time Hop and Fly, as the name implies, is about hopping and flying and really that's all you do in this game, however it's how you do it that surprises us considering this game is purely aimed at the very young child market. Set in Sunny Patch, you take control of a number of bugs who have various abilities to collect fruit and progress further in the game. For the parents out there, this game will help your kid learn to read, count, gather items and we see it as a stepping stone to games such as Mario Brothers as it has platform elements and puzzle elements to overcome.
The game is a side scrolling platform title with a number of mini games which use the capabilities of the NDS quite well. There are four options to play with - jumping, dodging, using the stylus and blowing into the microphone. As we said, it's pretty advanced for a kids game.
In the jumping game you basically have to time jumps, learn to overcome obstacles and gain collectables to progress further in the game. The other game which involves the microphone asks you to blow to keep a bug afloat with the others being a side scrolling shooter without bullets and another where you draw with the stylus.
As you can see this is a pretty advanced game for young gamers so it will teach them a lot of skills such as recognition, using a stylus, counting and other useful skills. It's also quite fun for adults to play allowing you to share the experience with your children and while it's a walkover for adults, it's quite challenging for the kids so Dad's help may be needed sometimes.
Visually the game is quite well done with three dimensional graphics used to good effect and bright, vibrant colours used to help the kids distinguish between objects and what has to be done. A significant effort has also been put into the help areas for the kids and the characters are nice and big to see. Sound effects are fairly stock standard with a basic soundtrack but it does the job.
Harvest Time Hop and Fly surprised us in many ways. We did review this under our childrens game policy but even so to see so much of the advanced DS features used in this title is quite amazing. GF should be recognised for trying to bring a DS game that uses all the features of the system while catering for the younger market, and for those with a DS and kids, this game is going to be the perfect fit.
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