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Dragon Tales: Dragon Seek (PlayStation) artwork

Dragon Tales: Dragon Seek (PlayStation) review

"Dragon Tales - Dragon Seek is part of an evil plot by the powers that be to distort the fragile minds of children and turn them against videogames for good. You see Dragon Tales is a game aimed at very young kids, a cutesy, wutesy hide and seek game where you play either a nauseating boy or girl who go to the land of dragons to play with their little cute dragon friends. "

Dragon Tales - Dragon Seek is part of an evil plot by the powers that be to distort the fragile minds of children and turn them against videogames for good. You see Dragon Tales is a game aimed at very young kids, a cutesy, wutesy hide and seek game where you play either a nauseating boy or girl who go to the land of dragons to play with their little cute dragon friends.

When I got this game it was with the intention of finding out exactly what game producers deem suitable entertainment for younger console gamers. Obviously it was not designed to appeal to me, but even the 5-years-olds it's aimed at threw up their hands in disgust when I asked one play this game in the interests of giving it a fair review (more on that later). However let me take you through the so-called gameplay elements of this miserable piece of software and let you make your own judgements.

Well after a jaunty opening scene when lots of cute dragons fly about and sing, you choose your characters that ''wish'' themselves to the land of the dragons, where they can play Hide and Seek with them. Aww, how nice. After a looooong-loading screen you arrive in a badly drawn 2D landscape.

Your character walks forwards, yet you have touched no buttons. They move under their own steam. Then ''oh'' excitement, the PlayStation button symbols flash over the characters head. Quick press the right one! Well press anyone actually it doesn't matter. Now what? Gosh a dragon appeared, I guess I found it! How good am I? Now off I go again, to find more Dragons by pressing one button. Isn't this fun?

There isn't much else to say about the game itself. It really is that simple. You watch your character walk through shabby levels and press one of the control buttons when they flash up to ''find'' the dragon. All wrapped up with voice action and graphics of such twee cuteness that your teeth may very possibly melt in distress after more than five minutes exposed to it.

My main beef with the game, apart from the bad graphics, non-existent gameplay, terrible loading times and general shoddiness is the contempt it shows for young console gamers. The idea that you can chuck out poorly thought out games and say ''well it's for kids'' has resulted in many appalling 'games' in the past (Hugo for one). But do they have a point? Do young kids actually like this stuff?

I decided once and for all to use this game (suitable for ages 3+) and another game (Tekken 3) to test whether kids would prefer the stuff marketed for them or actually a proper, good game.

So I took my PlayStation and a copy of Dragon Tales-Dragon Seek and a copy of Tekken 3 over to my Dads house. Here live my three half sisters ages 8, 5, and 6 months. None had played a console game before. First I boot up Tekken 3, and call over the 5 and 8-year-old ones. I set them up in versus mode and explain the basics. The 5 year old picks True Ogre and quickly learns the fire breath, repeatedly toasting the 8 year old who had chosen Panda. A real life fight ensues. They change characters, one as Julia, one as Ling. They spend 30 mins beating the crap out of each other and are very upset when told they have to stop. They sit down, rubbing aching fingers, eager to see what I have for them next.

I boot up Dragon Tails - Dragon Seek. The 5-year-old quickly pronounces it lame and demands Tekken 3 back on as ''it has fighting in, yeah!''. The 8-year-old likes the cute dragons at first, but the sheer repetitive boredom of pressing one button soon drives her to insist Tekken 3 is reinstated. I tuck the joypad under the flapping arms of my 6-month-old half sister. She bats, chews and bangs the joypad on the floor and gets much further than we managed. Mainly due to the fact she wasn't looking at the screen.

In the meantime, the 5 and 8 year old are practising roundhouse kicks on each other. 5-year-old clobbers 8-year-old round the jaw. Another fight breaks out. Stepmother charges in and bans fighting games in the future. Children annoyed, I whisper that next time I come I'll bring the N64 and Goldeneye, they perk up at the mention of guns. Dragons Tails-Dragon Seek is given the thumbs up only by the 6-month-old. She found it made a pretty chew toy and Frisbee.

So there you have it. Games like Dragons Tails-Dragon Seek are the worst games in the world. They are the kind of games hyped as safe, fun and wholesome and are bought by unknowing parents to inflict on long suffering kids. You see most kids; hate being talked down to. They can handle complex concepts like pressing buttons to make a fighter attack, or steering a car. They enjoy the same games we enjoy. So why won't developers recognise this fact and produce more challenging games aimed at the under tens?

As I said in my intro, maybe it's part of a plan to destroy children's interest in videogames at an early age. When my half sisters played Tekken 3, they got a bit over excited, but they were very into it. They experimented with moves and characters. Asked about the story. Jumped up and down cheering when they won. It was great. For the ten mins or so Dragons Tales was running, they were quiet, frowning, unsure of the point of it and finally wandering off bored.

The PlayStation in particular is suffering a deluge of this kind of ''shovelware'' for kids in its dying days. If we tolerate these games and give them to our children out of ignorance, we risk creating a new generation whose first experiences of gaming were painful, boring and cloyingly patronising.

That must not be allowed to happen, but I foresee nothing less than a collapse in the videogame market needed to shake certain people out of their complacency. ATTENTION GAMES PRODUCERS! Children are the games markets future adult gamers. Driving them away now with such dreck as Dragons Tales means one more future adult gamer maybe more wary of purchasing your games. So sort it out.

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Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)

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