IGN Review of EA Playground
The Wii version of EA Playground clearly went after the younger Wii Sports crowd ready for a few new waggle-and-twist challenges using the Wii remote. The Nintendo DS version of EA Playground, on the other hand, is EA saying "we haven't forgotten about you handheld owners either!" Even though neither game will set the world alight with awesomeness or creativity, the Nintendo DS version appears to have ended up the better of the two. It's really just a collection of younger-skewing playground games in touch-screen format, linked together with a simplistic "exploration" element so there's nothing truly special about it. It's simply a solid game that's fun for the kids.
EA Playground takes place in a generic playground for kids to wander around. Other kids seem to have settled into their niche as champions of their own field: dodgeball, jumping, RC racing, basketball, bug collecting
there are nine different playground games to find, with three different difficulties. If you're still a novice, an intermediate or expert player will tell you to get bent and find the pushover of the crowd before you can play them. The idea is to collect marbles which can be traded into the playground's economist for a sticker for your book Stickers "enhance" the gameplay of each of the nine different challenges by giving you added abilities
an important commodity since you'll find it tough to compete against the expert kid in a challenge if you don't have some stickers kicking up your skills.
The different games are of varying difficulty and design, but all of them settle nicely in the "decent" category. None are terrible and none are fantastic
they're just "hey, that's pretty fun. Dodgeball isn't going to give the classic Technos "Super Dodgeball" a run for its money, but it's a nice touchscreen variation of the sport that uses the d-pad, stylus, or a combination of the two. Probably the "champ" of the collection is the RC racing, as it's a really solid top-down racing game along the lines of RC Pro Am and Micromachines. But there are other fun diversions like the "Spitball" challenge which is a variation of those arcade shooters like Operation Wolf
and it requires players to blow into the system to spit, so it's at least somewhat realistic in its interface. We also dug the trampoline jumping challenge and can see how that could be a pretty competitive multiplayer game when you link systems together. The weakest of the collection is probably the skateboarding, which is nothing but "connect the dots really, really fast."
Finding all the games isn't hard, because the exploration mode isn't as fleshed out as the Wii counterpart. You just wander around and stumble on the kid with a star over his head
the only encouragement to poke around every nook and cranny is the potential for hidden marbles rewarded when you trigger an object like the tetherball pole or when you wander near a shrub.
None of these games are particularly enormous in scope, so it's a bit disappointing that the developers didn't manage to incorporate any special multiplayer options outside of requiring multiple copies of EA Playground. A single cart "sampler" would have been a fantastic way of getting other players interested in the product, and support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection could have increased the potential of the whole "sticker collection" element, but neither item has been supported in the final product. Yes it's certainly nice to still able to play four player racing or dodgeball with additional cartridges, but that's the least of our expectations
how about taking it one step further for more diehard DS gamers?
The biggest complaint we have with this game is the inconsistent save system in place. EA Playground records all high scores automatically after an event, but also requires players to pause the game and manually save their progress if they want to have the cartridge remember all the things they've done. During our review time we lost more than an hour of gameplay progress simply because we were never prompted to save the game. We can imagine this happening to many, many gamers so if you decide to pick this product up, REMEMBER TO SAVE YOUR PROGRESS.
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