Guest Author - Lisa Shea
In Franklin's Great Adventures, a turtle with his bear and beaver friends wander around town and help out with tasks and chores.
It's summer vacation time, and Franklin wants to go fly his kite. First he has to organize his room - you use your stylus to drag his clothes, toys and kite making materials into various locations. Soon the mailman has lost his mail, and you're side-scrolling and platform jumping to get the letters back. In another mini-game you have to gather your kite pieces. When you involve your friends, each has a specific task he's good at. You have to decide to switch to the bear character to climb up poles, or to beaver who can swim underwater.
I like the fact that the general "map" for the adventure - a quiet town in a woods - is shown in its entirety on the top screen, so that you always know where you are. The lower screen shows your immediate location, with the characters you interact with. An arrow always points you towards the next main goal, but you're free to wander around and explore if you wish.
The mini-games are geared towards young kids and relatively fun. You blow a sailboat down a stream to a goal line. You trace lines to help a kite fly in interesting patterns.
I did find parts of the game non-intuitive. You gather up apples, but get little indication of what to use them for. The manual only indicates they're necessary for a 100% completion, but there's no status screen to say how far along you are, or how much is left to go. It means players who are "in the game" don't feel like they're making great progress until they hit the end.
I like that the game is about helping people out, but it does seem that, for a summer vacation, you're spending a lot of time fetching wood, fetching mail and doing chores.
Really, my only concern with the game is that it seems a bit hard for its target audience. There are situations that involve character switches and multiple combined movements, where the items to jump to (tree branches, etc) aren't necessarily intuitive. I think if the missions had ramped up a little more slowly in difficulty, so that the players could be led through one or two situations to help them understand how to solve the puzzles, that would help out.
Still, if you have an experienced game player who is on the young side, and who appreciates games that are about fun and helpfulness rather than blood and mature language, I'd give Franklin's Great Adventures a try. There's a variety of things to do here, mini-games which you can replay for better scores, and games which test your logical thinking. The price is low, too!
Buy Franklin's Great Adventures from Amazon.com