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Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games (Game Boy Advance) review


"Itís clear that Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games was conceived as a collection of mini-game madness, just as itís clear that the team behind it ran out of ideas about five minutes in. To pad things out, they made an exploration mode that will occupy about two thirds of your time. This mode is about as much fun as playing Tic-Tac-Toe against yourself."



After playing through Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games, Iím pretty sure itís based on a cartoon Iíd enjoy. Thereís a definite sense of humor in the game, and I really like the art style. It reminds me of Rockoís Modern Life and a number of other Nickelodeon shows. You know, the sort of stuff most of us loved when we were kids. With that said, the game doesnít seem to have the same pedigree. When you get right down to it, the package you get is nothing more than 15 rather dull mini-games, connected by tedious exploration.

The idea behind the game is that Lazlo and his witty friends are hoping theyíll be able to participate in the Leaky Lake Games festival, as representatives for their camp. If they get their wish, theyíll get to show the rival all-girl team that Lazlo and crew know where itís at! Unfortunately, the activities director doesnít share their faith in their skill, so theyíll have to first prove that they are up to par by participating in the inconsequential qualifying events, of which there are around 12.

Itís clear that Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games was conceived as a collection of mini-game madness, just as itís clear that the team behind it ran out of ideas about five minutes in. To pad things out, they made an exploration mode that will occupy about two thirds of your time. This mode is about as much fun as playing Tic-Tac-Toe against yourself. Camp Lazlo is a relatively large place and youíll have to cross it numerous times between each mini-game.

Really, it amounts to item hunting. Maybe youíre about to participate in a swim meet, only you suddenly realize that you donít have your swim cap. Of course, what animal could possibly swim without the appropriate gear? So you have to scrounge around camp, only youíll find that the person who had it lent it to someone else, who might tell you where itís at if you retrieve the meat-flavored lip balm. Thatís not an exact example, just a meaningless collection of a few examples I remember off the top of my head. It hardly matters, though, since they all blur together. At the end of the day, aside from the occasional line of dialogue, everything blurs together and it doesnít matter if youíre getting flowers or shovels or whatever else. Itís all repetitive.

At least fetching items is made simpler by an in-game compass, which works about 90 percent of the time. You generally have a good idea which direction you need to go, and then you get near and maybe you have to backtrack one screen and take a slightly different route. Either way, itís doable and shouldnít provide children with too much frustration.

If you're above five, though, your primary source of amusement is the art design and not the play mechanics. Packed as they are with trees and brush, docks and cabins, the Camp Lazlo grounds feel appropriately 'camp-ish' and the characters are fun to watch as they make their way around the area. They're just not doing anything particularly interesting in and of itself.

Your reward for going through all the fetching isnít much better: you get to play some mini-games.

For a game like Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games to work, the mini-games have to be a huge payoff. They have to be so cool that you want to go back and play them on a whim. Well, you can do that here if you really want to, only you wonít. Want to, that is. Because they suck.

As I already mentioned, there are 15 mini-games. I counted. Plus, they were posted on the bulletin board at the center of camp. So, what do these games entail? Around a third of them consist of more running around the map and collecting items. So those are immediately a Ďno thanksí sort of thing. Then there are the rest, which switch things up a bit.

One finds you hopping across floating ledges to one side of the screen, touching a flag, then hopping back to the left, touching a flag, and repeating the process until the event ends. The controls are fairly precise so youíll probably only mess up a few times and then win. Thatís how it is with most events; thereís little risk of actually losing, little in the way of tension except for a timer that ticks down and is just as likely to have two minutes remaining when you complete your objective as not.

Another area has you grabbing water, then cleaning up trees that have been sprayed with paint. You have to keep running back to the start to get more water, then back to the other end of the map to clean a tree off, then repeating the stupid process until you just want the game to end. Then it does, and you donít have to play that game again unless you sucked and didnít finish in time.

A few of the other games just have you press button combinations. You do so for a few minutes until the event ends and you win. There are sometimes amusing animations to go with, but these events are repetitive and benefit only from a different set of animations, so to speak. Thereís not much else to say about that.

Probably the best game is the food fight, only itís also really irritating. You stand at the center of six people that are throwing food back and forth, and you have to do the same while avoiding hits. Then you figure out that just moving up and down while chucking food is all you have to do, and the event loses its luster. How delightful.

Ultimately, Camp Lazlo: Leaky Lake Games is completely forgettable, despite its promising premise. Little kids who love the cartoon will find it mildly amusing for awhile, but even they are likely to tire of the unimaginative mini-games and seemingly endless fetch quests. The license deserved better and so does your wallet.

Rating: 4/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 10, 2006)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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