It was only a matter of time before a game company took one of our fondest childhood memories and created an interactive experience out of it. The fond memories of the giant box of color surely ring a bell amongst most of our readers. Crave Entertainment has capitalized on this by bringing Crayola: Colorful Journey to the Nintendo Wii. Combining the fun of coloring with a videogame has been attempted before, but not quite the same way here thanks to the system’s motion controls. What ensues is an enjoyable experience for young and old gamers alike that is only slightly hindered by a few nagging issues.
Colorful Journey places you in the role of twins Fillup and Violet, or more appropriately in the role of their world designer. If you remember the classic Daffy Duck short where the animator would draw in items, and scale it back a bit you will get the idea. The twins are sucked unto mythical coloring book and thus their journey begins. As you can imagine the drama behind the plot is that some evil force is stealing all of the color in the world, and it is your job to return it thanks the wonderful color-wand; also known as the Wii remote.
As I mentioned the premise behind the game is akin to those classic Daffy Duck scenarios where the director is in control of the scene. The difference here is that you control a crayon that can bring objects to life as well as creating paths for our two protagonists. You don’t actually control Fillup and Violet per se, but instead create the paths that they will take their journey upon. Our heroic twins instead move autonomously, with forward always being their goal. This can be disorienting at times because they are like zombies sometimes ramming into walls and not taking into account their environment.
Utilizing the Wii remote was probably the best idea for a game of this type. You can simply point the remote at the screen, press the A button and draw lines that turn into solid objects for your characters to walk on. These lines can also be erased by repeating the process, but this time using B instead of A. The mechanics are simple enough, and surprisingly inventive. There are times where you will have to plan your creations carefully, and there are even varying sizes and weight properties for each crayon. You can also color in objects for the same effect, but be careful as you have a specific amount of juice in your crayon, and if you deplete it, it’s game over.
The core game itself is unexpectedly long, and some of the levels are a bit more involved than they should be. This would not usually be a problem, but when your target audience has the attention span of, well a three year old, then shortening these levels would have been idea. It is also worth noting that the medium and advanced difficulties are simply too much for younger kids. On easy your characters will actually stop in front of hazards giving you time to create their path, while on the harder ones they simply walk right into them without hesitation. A lot of steps could have been taken to create a more kid-friendly game; besides I doubt that anyone over the age of five will be playing this one their own.
Outside of the core game there are a host of unlockables in the form of, you guessed it, crayons. Much like the box you remember as a child there are 64 various colors scattered throughout the game and finding each one places it in your collection. Also what game bearing the name Crayola would be complete without an in-game coloring book. This novel feature gives kids the ability to scribble at their heart’s desire without having to worry about ruining a real book. The only problem is that there are a limited number of pictures, and you will likely barrel through them faster than you would like.
Visually the game uses an over-exaggerated art style with a primary color palette. Shockingly it is not overly bright even though it is based on color. The colors feel more muted giving the game a slightly darker tone, but still retaining the kiddy-look. Character models are also larger than life with passable animations. The overall presentation is decent enough, but nothing spectacular. It does everything it needs to do to keep kids occupied while they play it.
Crayola: Colorful Journey is a solid game for younger gamers. Mixing the classic crayon phenomenon with Wii remote interactivity is a brilliant idea, and one that will provide fun for kids and parents. The staggering difficulty curve makes playing on anything harder than easy a chore for younger gamers, and the levels suffer from being a bit too long for their own good, but everything else is a unique adventure that younger gamers will eat up. If you have kids who love to color this game is perfect for them, and you may find yourself sneaking in a batch of fun as well.