No one in my family has seen the movie How to Train Your Dragon (long story, including intense fear of movie theaters on the part of some of the junior members of Team Stimey), but we were thrilled to try out the new How to Train Your Dragon video game for the Wii.
This game is available for several platforms, including the Wii, Xbox, Playstation 3, and Nintendo DS.
The game is rated E 10+, so I promptly handed it over to my 8-year-old, Sam, who was delighted.
The game features both a story mode for one player and an arcade mode for two players. Sam started out in story mode, which he liked a lot. In story mode your character wanders around and interacts with his environment, going on adventures and doing battle. It was similar to some of the adventure games my husband plays, but waaaaaay more age appropriate. And easier.
I liked that when the characters speak, they do so both in audible words and subtitles, making it easy for readers and non-readers (such as a four-year-old observer) to keep up. Sam liked that you can change the appearance of the dragons.
Arcade mode was fun because Sam and my almost seven-year-old could play together. In arcade mode, near as I can tell, the dragons fight each other with their tails, fire-breathing, etc. Like Mortal Kombat, only cuter.
I have to say that I prefer games that let more than two players play at once (Kung Fu Panda and Super Mario Bros. Wii, for example). It's tough to divide up my kids' limited video game playing time when they can't all play at once.
Because Sam is the one who played the game, I decided to do a little interview with him about what he liked and didn't like about the game. I asked what his favorite part of the game is and he said, "That you can beat dragons up and get trophies." His least favorite? "How hard the tournament matches are."
He told me that it was "medium" to learn (as opposed to hard or easy), and that he thought kids as young as six could play because his six-year-old brother "beat me up a couple of times." He told me that he preferred to play alone in story mode, however, because "You can fight tournament matches. If it's arcade mode, you can only fight each other. In story mode you do quests and stuff."
He did rank this game below his two other current favorite games, Endless Ocean: Blue World and Super Mario Galaxy.
And then he pretended to fall asleep. Interview over.
My opinion? As far as family-friendly video games go, this is a pretty good one. If you think your child will easily get bored of dragon matches, it might not be the game for you. It's simple, but not terribly fast moving (which has both advantages and disadvantages). However, if your kid is thrilled with the Dragon movie, this might just be a no-brainer gift.
Honesty Clause: We were given a Wii and Xbox version of this video game for review purposes. List price for the game is $49.99. Of the other video games mentioned, I (or a family member) purchased all of them, except Endless Ocean: Blue World, for which a review is upcoming.