Developer / Distributor: Black Sheep Studio / Game Life and Deep Silver
Release Date: 28 Nov 2008
Rating: PEGI 3+
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Hi there dear readers of Daily PC Game Reviews, today we’ll be taking a look at a game that is targeted towards parents who have little tikes desperately looking for something to play on daddy’s (or mommy’s) PC at home.
Drumroll, please. I’d like to introduce to you The Magic Roundabout…
You may ask, what’s that? Well, The Magic Roundabout is a children’s animated series that originated from France that relied on stop motion animation. It was originally known as Le manege enchanté. Here, take a look.
Soon after, the BBC got wind of the show and decided to buy rights to air it in the UK. The Brits gave the show a different flavour by dubbing each five minute episode with their own script (featuring the voice of Eric Thompson). Very soon, The Magic Roundabout (as it became to be known), became famous for it’s humour across the Channel, and the rest as they say is history.
Several recent remakes brought the show back to life, including this one from 2005 — featuring the voices of Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams. Now, we finally have the PC version of The Magic Roundabout. So has the charm from the movie managed to make it’s way into the game?
|Bark for a carousel|
The Magic Roundabout has three save game profiles from you to choose from. Once you’re done, you arrive at the main menu featuring a carousel and two characters from the show going around it – Florence (the girl), and Dougal (the dog).
You get to choose to enter the game, or to view unlocked photos and movies. If you’ve completed the game, you’ll also get to access a bonus Hide and Seek mode from here.
|Get to meet the wonderful characters from the show|
You will be treated to many cutscenes featuring all the characters from the English version of the show. The protagonist of the game is none other than Dougal, the grumpy but talkative shaggy haired dog (probably a Skye Terrier breed).
You will also meet:
- Florence – a nice and friendly little girl.
- Mr. Rusty – the old man who operates the carousel — The Magic Roundabout, found at the centre of the village.
- Brian – a kind and happy talking snail.
- Dylan – a rabbit who just never seems to have enough sleep.
- Ermintrude – a cow who sings and also has a crush for Dougal.
- Zebedee – a mischievous red-faced jack-in-the-box wearing a yellow jacket.
|Deciding where to go in the Garden|
At the start of the game, you are given one overarching objective: To win a contest by helping everyone in the village! You are supposed to guide Dougal around the village to visit objects in the game world and check whether they contain a hidden treasure. Possible treasures include magic stars, keys, gears, presents, and so on.
The entire game can be played with just the mouse alone. You move Dougal by clicking and holding your mouse on a spot on the ground. When you find an object, you can click on it to search it for hidden treasure. A picture then appears telling you to either shake your mouse up and down or left and right vigorously for a few seconds. If you do it right, your search ends and you will find out whether the object contains a hidden treasure.
|Shake it up with all you’ve got!|
Other than hidden treasure, there are also twelve mini-games that you must visit to continue the story in The Magic Roundabout. You can click on the book at the upper right to see what mini-games you have unlocked so far. To find the location of the next mini-game, you click on the map (just below the book) to see which character needs your help.
- Gardening – There are three rounds in this mini-game. Florence wants to plant flowers among six spots in her garden. In each round, you must memorize her orders for two or more flowers. You’ll win if you plant the seeds in the correct spots for all three rounds.
- Flowers – Nasty looking worms are attacking Ermintrude’s flowers. Stop them before it’s too late. Just click on a worm to shoot it. Survive several waves to win the mini-game.
|Six games unlocked and six more to go|
- Race against Dylan – Race around a track in a dog vs rabbit race. You do this by alternately clicking on the the right and left mouse buttons to move Dougal. If you hit a skateboard, you will accelerate at a greater speed. But if you hit a barrier, you will slow down. Watch out when Dylan hits a carrot… he might even overtake you and win the game because of that. This is perhaps the most mouse intensive action game.
- Conducting an orchestra – Play a Guitar Hero like game where you must move your mouse in the direction of the arrow whenever an icon passes over a green bar next to the treble clef.
- The missing cake – Help Brian find the missing pieces of his cake before the time is up. You do this by tracking the aromas, denoted by a pink wisp of smoke.
|Help… Ermintrude’s singing again!|
- A treasure indicator – this is a great device to save you lots of wasted time. When you walk near an object you wish to search, it will start to tick to tell you there really is hidden treasure here.
- Finding all the missing gears will net you access to the talking Train (although he doesn’t talk at all in the game). Mr. Train will save you even more time — you just need to click on him and he will bring you right away to where the five characters of the game have set up home for themselves.
- Find all three keys to unlock the carousel.
- Finding all the missing presents will get Zebedee to award you a carousel ticket. Return to Mr. Rusty and you can get to ride with all of Dougal’s friends.
The graphics in The Magic Roundabout does not boast special effects like those you see in a first person shooter (for example, Gears of War or Half-Life); there seems to be no anti-aliasing and some 3D models don’t look as detailed as I would have preferred. Don’t walk away disappointed though, this is a kid’s game after all and for all intents and purposes, I think it will suit the intended audience very well.
The interface is very simple and neat… it is also generally unobtrusive; hiding itself and only appearing if you move your mouse to the top half of the screen, or if you press the Escape button.
|A balloon mini-game|
Generally the voice acting was alright, however I felt the script was rather slow moving. By the way, you’ll either love or hate Ermintrude… I’ll leave you to guess where I stand.
The music themes are rather addictive after listening to them for a while. Some of them are also rather enchanting and soothing to the ears. If you don’t like it, you can always mute it away from the Game Options screen at the main menu. The sound effects feature the typical sounds you might hear from a cartoon and are just about average.
|Zebedee will teach you how to play the mini-games|
The spirited charm of The Magic Roundabout animated series has been brought to life in this nice PC game for kids.
- There is quite an offering of mini-games… including a grand mini-game that makes you roam all over the land looking for hidden treasure.
- You get to meet lots of cute lovely characters from the show.
- Dougal himself makes for a nice protagonist to control.
- The game is controlled entirely by your mouse. You move by clicking on the ground, and find objects by shaking your mouse in various ways.
- The mini-games are simple to understand and some of them are quite fun to play.
- There are quite a number of interesting photos and movies from the show waiting to be unlocked.
- Those who are familiar with the original cartoon series will feel a sense of nostalgia just by playing the game.
- This game is great for kids, and even better if an adult is playing it with them.
|What’s Florence doing now?|
Forcing kids to watch long (and sometimes boring) cut scenes or to travel long distances will either make or break the game for them.
- Arrgh!! Such a heinous crime – You simply can’t skip the cut scenes.
- Graphics is not as sharp and detailed like core games. You can see jaggies because there’s no anti-aliasing, and objects aren’t that highly detailed. Textures also feel faded in some areas.
- Travelling is quite a chore (or is it – bore?) for the first half of the game.
- The game is targeted at kids… uhh, make that: The game is truly targeted at kids, really!
- One or two of the mini-games may be a bit too challenging for kids.
- The world still feels a bit too empty with not much to do after you have visited all the characters and their homes.
- There are no unlockables that allow you to control the other much loved characters.
|Dougal’s feeling sleepy from all that trekking|
If you are an adult thinking whether you should get this game for yourself… well, think twice. But if you’re getting it for kids, then go ahead. The Magic Roundabout series may not be popular with the kids of today, but it just might win some of them over.
As for the game play, you will find yourself travelling back and forth a lot, and with only twelve mini-games and an endless hide and seek mode, you must decide if it’s all worth it.
If you are not getting this game for kids, I recommend you deduct 2 points from the final score.