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Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Mermaids Package Art
GENRE
Adventure
DEVELOPER
Black Lantern Studios
PUBLISHER
2K Play
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
Yes
BUY NOW AT

Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Mermaids

Dora returns to the portable scene with a title that teaches young children how to be environmentally friendly and count to ten in Spanish. Dora Saves the Mermaids sets the game in a tropical environment, which allows for trash-carrying crabs to be stopped and wooden debris to be jumped over using the stylus and touch screen.

visuals

The aesthetics of the game faithfully hold true to the series's roots. Dora looks spot-on, although no animation is used for any of the characters. The game’s target audience, however, will overlook this lack of fluidity, and children will enjoy the visuals that are presented. In addition, the tropical background instills bright colors and vibrant artwork that is pleasurable and mixes well with the series. For the story sequences, cut scenes of still images are used to develop the plot. As with the graphics, these are solid reproductions of the cartoon, but some actual video would have been a nice addition to entertain the younger children.

audio

This is easily the best part of the game. Players will become more immersed within this title by Dora being fully voiced. This also acts as an integral part of the game, as she will count along with the player to help teach simple words and counting in Spanish. Although this feature may not be innovative, it does serve a nice purpose and allows for kids to learn while they play.

Not to be outdone, the background and theme music also offer a nice variety and catchy tunes for the player. The use of the xylophone in many of the tunes is pleasant and fits well with the overall tropical/island theme. The tracks may be a bit repetitive, but there is no denying that they will appeal to children. I even caught myself humming the tunes way after powering down my Nintendo DS and gently placing the stylus back into its slot.

gameplay

This is where the experience is obviously simplified for a younger generation. First off, players do not have to worry about failing at any of the twenty-four mini-games. Instead, Dora will offer encouraging words and multiple second chances until success is finally achieved. To reach your goal, players will primarily use the stylus to help Dora pick-up trash from the beach or clean up particular sections of a whale. Additionally, there are side-scrolling stages that intermix with the touch and drag sections and consist of players using the d-pad to move and touch screen to jump over obstacles, such as wood debris washed up on shore.

The microphone is also put to some use, as players will shout character names or say Spanish words to help Dora reach the next area. For example, players will learn to say map in Spanish to reveal a new stage. While this sounds promising, this game does not actually recognize these particular phrases, as simply blowing into the DS will suffice these tasks. Finally, the mini-games contain some rather bizarre, but funny situations. In one of these, players will actually have to decipher from catfish, cowfish and dogfish by tapping them onscreen. This adds in some good comic relief, even if it may have been unintentional.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Dora is not aimed at the hardcore audience, and it shows in every way. From the graphics to gameplay, this title is meant for a very young audience. The game proffers average stylus-based mini-games and good production values; however, the title can easily be played in one sitting by most players, even children, so kids may grow tired of it in one day. Thus, for the short attention spans of the younger ones, there are a plethora of other titles to choose from that may offer more bang for your buck.

final score 5.7/10





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Staff Avatar Evan Campbell
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"Real men don't fight — they sing!"


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