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Junior Classic Games (DS) artwork

Junior Classic Games (DS) review


"Split into six differing categories, each of the thirty mini games is bright, colourful and wrapped around a strong animal motif that’s not overly complicated nor tinged with the disappointing “you’re doing your homework for fun!” aftertaste so many of the more traditional brain-trainers feel obliged to wallow in."



One of the hardest jobs about working on a video game reviewing website is choosing who the best person is for reviewing each title that comes in. It’s somewhat worrying, then, that I’ve become the pick for educational games aimed at children between four and nine, a selection effortlessly made by the hidden sect of ancient wise men we keep locked in the office’s walk-in closet. Junior Classic Games was hence delivered to my tiny corner desk on a silver tray lined with velvet, adorned with a post-it informing me to ask for help if I found any of the puzzles too taxing.

I completed all the puzzles with style and aplomb! It’s important to get that out of the way early to stop everyone questioning my [completely fictional] mental deficiency.

While it’s probably a given that a hardened and exponentially skilled gamer such as my good self would stroll through the puzzles, the title presents perfect fodder to keep the attention of those of a significantly younger age. Split into six differing categories, each of the thirty mini games is bright, colourful and wrapped around a strong animal motif that’s not overly complicated nor tinged with the disappointing “you’re doing your homework for fun!” aftertaste so many of the more traditional brain-trainers feel obliged to wallow in.

Choose to venture into the musical section, and you’ll help lemurs learn to dance by taping notes as they scroll past a orange line in a simplistic Guitar Hero clone, or memorise the order of multicoloured chicks that chirp in all manner of odd notes. I question their role in educating the next generation of super-geeks, but they’re not putting me to sleep, either. Other games, like helping a beaver collect sticks to construct his dam, means playing a touch-screen version of Jenga which is only as competent as your screen is correctly touch aligned. You’re offered the age old game of spot the difference with a herd of almost-similar cows, if you fancy something to stare at, or tasked with helping an elephant learn the alphabet by filling in a grid of letters. There’re even a Whack-a-Mole game featuring a hungry anteater that has you try to snack down on ants emerging from their hills with a well-timed stylus prod while trying to avoid chewing on the odd wasp who seems to have lost their way.

The game count is artificially bolstered by including the same game a few times over with differing rules. The age old game of pairs is mercilessly driven into the ground with several slightly different versions, be it matching a number with the correct gathering of animals on a card (like matching a nine with a card of nine ladybugs) or instead the exact same game but asking the matches to be ever-so-slightly altered. Like linking angry pictures of snakes with their corresponding breed, or trying to put together identical frogs.

There are word searches wrapped up in a spider’s web, and games of hangman that has clumsy monkeys tumble from a tree with each incorrectly guessed letter. Sadly, there’s even one of those awful sliding tile games that everyone hates regardless of age. There are Chinese Solitaire playing pandas and kittens who need you to play Pipemania so they’re not eaten by gruff looking bulldogs. To avoid becoming even more of a list, suffice to say, there’s a lot to do before you see everything the collection has to offer.

While the bright colours and the cute animals are an appreciated touch, the main reason that a game like Junior Classic Games is going to appeal to someone of the predicted demographic is simply because the games are hardly what you would associate with hardcore gaming, but neither are they insulting or drab. There’s three difficulty settings each game can be set to, and even picking the very lowest tier isn’t a guarantee of victory. There’s a solid backbone of mini-games crammed onto the cart and though some are obvious imitations of challenges that already exist, it’s easy to skip over them and find something else you’d rather do quite effortlessly. Maybe a young player will learn something whilst playing, and that’s a significant bonus. They won’t resent you for forcing upon them something that’s basically homework dressed up, because they’ll probably enjoy it.

The closest thing I ever got to this was a calculator we used to type 58008 on, hold upside-down and pretend it was a slightly rude word. Hardly seems fair, really.

Rating: 8/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 20, 2009)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Feedback

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zippdementia posted June 20, 2009:

I'm simultaneously piteous of your ability to play these games and jealous of your ability to write decent reviews for them.
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EmP posted June 21, 2009:

Hopefully, that should be the last of the slightly more tedious reviews I need write for a while. Until Mr Postman arrives tomorrow with his little bag of spite.

For now, I get to kick back and actually play some games I might want to play. It's an completly new feeling for me.

But thanks. I'm glad I managed to pull these off without the reviews sounding tedioius.
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zippdementia posted June 21, 2009:

Well, definitely this one was stronger than the detective one. I got the sense your mouth was filled with too much bile on the detective game to actually write as well.
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wolfqueen001 posted June 22, 2009:

Haha. Yeah. This one's a lot stronger than the other one. Interesting that you gave it a higher score, though. I'm guessing you're rating more for the intended audience than yourself there.

And haha. You can spell a lot more with a calculator. 5318008 is a lot funnier alteration. I think my favorite was 7734, though. Haha. I'd totally forgotten about that joke, though. Not since I was 10, I swear... Thanks for reminding me. lol
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zippdementia posted June 22, 2009:

I've seen Extras, so the joke is much funnier for me, as it reminds me of that wonderful show.
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wolfqueen001 posted June 23, 2009:

Oh, yeah. P.S.:

YOU'RE WELCOME!!!(x2)

=D

Bahaha.
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UACARI posted June 24, 2009:

Thanks to this very kind review of our game. It's always good to see that people like what you think can be better. It's encouraging to do better game to get better review. We appreciate also the fact that you have tried to think like the target group and not as a gamer. If you want some infos about our incoming products do not hesitate ;D
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EmP posted July 17, 2009:

I've started a depressing trend of seeing these things late. I shall remedy this belatedly!

Zipp: Never seen US Office, Wasn't a huge fan of the original UK Office, and assumed the US version would be rubbish.

WQ: THANK YOU!. I see your infacution with breasts started at a young age!

Ucari: Thanks for dropping in, and sorry it took me forever to reply (I'll assume you'll recheck a forum long after you posted just on the off chance!) I'm very glad you liked the review.

But, please -- no more sliding tile puzzles!
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UACARI posted July 17, 2009:

Well Sliding games is the kind we almost die to QA :D
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wolfqueen001 posted July 18, 2009:

Hey. Stop spreading lies about me!
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zippdementia posted July 19, 2009:

EmP: that's okay, because I was talking about Extras, not Office.

PS. The American Office is rubbish. The UK one is genius, despite your lies. Or perhaps I should say, it appealed most definitely to my sensibilities and film aesthetics.
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EmP posted July 19, 2009:

Haha, sorry. I tend to lump the two tegether. Seen even less of Extras, but I did like the bit they did with Patrick Stewart.

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