When the Game Factory released Build-A-Bear for the Nintendo DS last year it was one of the most unusual, and fresh ideas for games aimed at a younger demographic. The idea of taking such a well-known franchise and crafting a game around it was brilliant marketing. The real surprise though came from the fact that the game was actually fun and well designed, giving kids good reason to clamor for more. Almost exactly one year later The Game Factory and Neko Entertainment return to bring the Build-A-Bear series to Nintendo’s motion-controlled console with a few new features and twelve megatons of cute.
Much like the DS release of the game you start off with the ability to create your own Bear and customize them to your liking. There are over eighty items available and tailoring your creation to your personal taste is surprisingly simple. What made the DS version so great for kids was the customization and it feels the team has made the same effort to bring that over to the Wii incarnation.
There are two different modes available in Friend Fur All Seasons. The first has you exploring one of four themed islands and even tracking down six hidden treasure chests that contain a special gift for you. Everything here is light on complexity and heavy on giving the player an enjoyable environment to explore. As you continue to investigate each island you will participate in a host of mini-games that, much like the DS version, take full advantage of the Wii’s motion-sensitive controls.
The second mode is basically a free-for-all mode that allows you to play any of the various mini-games at your leisure in what has been dubbed Playground Mode. These mini-games are varied enough to keep you occupied and can range from things such as ice skating to riding a ladybug to even building a snowman. While most of this may sound tedious to most gamers, younger gamers will enjoy the simplistic controls and intuitive design. It is always refreshing to see a game that focuses on its audience and continue to deliver quality.
The mini-games can also be enjoyed with up to four players simultaneously giving parents a chance to get in on the action. They can be competitive or co-op and always manage to be fun. For the determined gamer there are also a host of hidden surprises scattered around the game and even some special mini-game features that can be unlocked with a little effort.
Build-A-Bear Workshop: A Friend Fur All Seasons is the type of game that really shouldn’t be grouped together with other games. It is more like an interactive experience for a younger demographic that manages to remain accessible and fun while not feeling too daunting for anyone. The mini-games are fun, the visuals are bright and happy and the game just oozes with personality that can make just about anyone smile. If you have a young one that is enthralled with the Build-A-Bear sensation and own a Wii, I highly recommend checking out this title for some good old-fashioned family fun.