GameFactory has published quite a few quality titles for the DS directed at younger players, such as Garfield’s Nightmare, Cartoon Network Racing, and Garfield: Tale of Two Kitties to name a few. The latest is developer Shin’en (the developer of the well received DS shooter Nanostray) puzzler based upon Cartoon Network’s Pet Alien.
The TV show is about 13 year old Tommy Cadle and the five crash-landed aliens from the Planet Conforma he lives with, Dinko, Gumpers, Flip, Swanky, and Scruffy. The characters are all in the DS game, the characters have been kidnapped by the Robitix for display in an intergalactic zoo. Tommy’s alien cohorts must assist in his escape.
The intro really sets up nicely the cartoony-3d presentation of the game. Visually, the game is outstanding. Perfect presentation of a game based upon a cartoon. The music and sounds, however are lacking. The method to solving the puzzles is pretty much standard stuff for the genre; box breaking, switch flipping, obstacle smashing, etc; however the ability to use Tommy’s alien friends to solve puzzles adds an interesting challenge for a younger player. The escape is managed via puzzles and each alien offers a separate talent to assist in solving the puzzles. For example: one can fit through small spaces, another breaks boxes, and another can use his tongue to flip switches, etc.
The player must work their way around the level and collect enough crystals determined on each level. Reaching the end of the level may appear at first glance to be easy, however there’s a bit more involved than just collecting crystals and navigating from point A to point B.
There are certain switches which can only be operated if certain colored cards are found. It’s up to the player to figure out which alien to use when to reach the goal. There are four separate sections, each having twenty levels. Each section has a boss. The boss fights are fun and have a “platformy” feel to them.
There are also 5 mini-games included, which involve either tapping or dragging the stylus. This was also in my opinion, the most fun aspect of the game. Perhaps Shin’en could be tapped to develop an awesome mini-game driven game for the DS?
In closing, if you’re looking for a tidy little puzzle game to keep the kids happy, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Pet Alien. Since I’m an adult type person, I have my own little “focus group” of kids I ask to play the game after I’ve finished and give me their opinion. For the older kids (13+), it was a bit too easy.
For the under 10 group-they were entertained and also had the ability to solve the puzzles without asking me every 3 minutes “Get me through this part!!!” (Every parent of a junior gamer knows what I’m talking about-). I continue to be impressed by developers such as Shin’en, they make a quality kid’s game without assuming the kids are idiots. It’s a nice find for younger gamers who have patience for puzzlers.