Mia Reading The Bugaboo Bugs
Company: Kutoka Interactive
My four-year-old daughter was very excited the day The Bugaboo Bugs arrived in the mail for review. She loves games, but little did she know this was an educational title. While the product is rated for 5-9 years of age, I had hopes this would help my four-year-old as well. It did, but more on that later.
The game needs to install onto your hard drive, and this was a very SLOW process. Firing up the game for the first time, with my daughter waiting to play, she was very disappointed to have to wait almost ten minutes while the program installed itself. I can’t remember the last time any program took that long to install. Even Microsoft Office 08 and Adobe Creative Suite 3 took far less time. It was ridiculous. Every few minutes, she would ask “Is it ready yet, Dad?” only to be told “Not yet, kiddo. Soon.” That got old quickly.
As for the game itself, it feels and looks just like some of the budget gaming titles from 1998. It has a cheap “Macromedia Director” feel to the whole thing. While I don’t mind cheaply made games that are fun, it is 2008 now, and on a fast iMac 2.8HGz machine that we are using, the game should not feel so sluggish and unresponsive. The pre-rendered game movies / scenes look pretty good, but the actual in-game graphics looks like badly rendered png files from someone who needs to learn to use a Mask tool better. Especially the person who did the work on the Jelly Beans.
Another problem is that the game changes the resolution of your monitor. Many games do that, but Mia Reading The Bugaboo Bugs does not play nice. Any other window left open during the game is resized afterwards. And yet another problem is that the game does not turn off Expose, meaning that unless I do it manually each time my daughter wants to play Mia, she will accidentally move the mouse cursor to a corner, activating either hiding every window and going to the desktop, bring up the dashboard, etc. This is very, very annoying, and has caused my daughter to get very frustrated at times. And myself as well, as I have to then go and fix the problem the game designers were too lazy to think about.
That being said, my opinion on the game really is not the important factor here. They did not make this game for ME, but for a child like my daughter. The real test is how she liked it, and would you be wasting your $25 on this game if you purchased it for your kids or grandkids. And the answer… Maybe.
Some of the mini-games, for a child of four, are quite fun. When she wins one, she gets very excited. There are two modes of play, the activity mode in which the player can play three difficulty settings on various mini games, or the adventure mode, which follows the story of the game and also includes the mini games. My daughter liked both, although the adventure part got boring for her without my direct involvement. The story is slow-paced at times, especially at the beginning. She was getting bored “waiting to do something” as she put it.
This is a hard game for me to review. Based on other kid games my older children have played over the last decade and a half, I would rate it very, very low. On the other hand, even with the problems described above, my four year old simply wants to play it all the time, even more than she wants to make funny faces in the Photo Booth application. (which is saying something, trust me.)
There are major technical issues, major graphical issues, but no issues about enjoyment. The story is cute, as are the characters. And lest I forget, this is an educational title, meaning that while it is fun to play, it is also meant to help teach children to read, recognize numbers, etc. So while I am recommending the title as an inexpensive title, be aware of the shortcomings as well. And turn off Expose before you fire it up, trust me!
MyMac.com Rating: 3 out of 5