IGN Review of Travel Games for Dummies
I like the idea of a real interactive "For Dummies" game, but this is not it. Travel Games for Dummies includes three common diversions: Sudoku, Solitaire, and Crosswords -- and they've all been better represented on the Nintendo DS. The tutorial aspect, which should be the main draw, is nothing more than a few pages of text. That's what we get in just about every game. This is a missed opportunity that could have been an interesting bit of edutainment. Instead, Travel Games for Dummies is wholly unnecessary.
The "For Dummies" self-help books have been around for years, attempting to break complicated topics down for laymen. For instance, you know that super complex machine called the Nintendo Wii? Only rocket surgeons can figure that thing out, right? That's why there is "Wii for Dummies," which somehow manages to make the high concepts of "Miis" and "inserting game discs" understandable to you and I. It would seem that, perhaps, Travel Games for Dummies' first mistake was in its subject matter. There may be one or two people out there who still have not played Sudoku, but come on, who really needs Solitaire and Crosswords explained to them? Electronic Arts recently released Poker for Dummies on PC, a game that would seem to have more value to more people.
But Travel Games' course selection is not as big a sin as how it utterly fails to be a useful learning tool. Videogames have the opportunity to be interactive -- something a book can't provide. So why are these tutorials nothing more than a list of rules? It would have been much more helpful to have the user practice steps along the way and be involved in the learning process. The way Travel Games is set up, each of the three games has "how to," "practice," and "play" sections. Read the "how to," then go play. Is that really all the developers could come up with? There are some pretty strange variations on Solitaire included here. Users would retain more of the new rules if they could practice along with the text, rather than have to remember the new information and go off on their own. If I wanted to read, I'd turn in my "Cool Kids" membership badge and go dork it up at the library with the other poindexters.
The biggest potential value for Travel Games is probably the aforementioned Solitaire, since there are 10 different types of the solo game on offer. They all play similarly: by arranging cards in stacks according to suit or number. This is probably the only area of the game where you might learn something.
Sudoku plays fine here, but it's nothing we didn't see in Brain Age. The Crosswords game is inferior to Nintendo's own collection of puzzles. For both exercises players can either write their letters and numbers on the touch screen or input them one at a time from a keyboard.
The manual is actually written with personality and reads like a typical "For Dummies" text. But that personality doesn't carry over to the game. No history or context is given for any of the exercises, just plain text glossing over the rules. The visuals are bland, and the cheesy audio (waves crashing on an beach) is a bit much.
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