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Smart Series JaJa's Adventure - Wii Review

Game Info
Smart Series: JaJa's Adventure

Wii | UFO Interactive | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now (North America)
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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11th July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

I consider having the opportunity to review a game like this as just that, an opportunity. Obviously, you know your kids better than I do, but what I try to do is advise parents on whether a kid-friendly game is worth their time and money. So UFO Interactive's award-winning set of games comes along, appearing on the Wii for the first time with 'JaJa's Adventure'. And I decide to give it a shot. After all, I think it's a good idea for the developers to jump ship to the Wii, so they can appeal to younger audiences. However, even if you enjoyed some of the other games in the series on the DS, do not support this game at all. Let poor sales stand as a testimony to the fact that the developers seriously need to evaluate the decisions of their team if they hope to continue this series, moving forward.

    The story behind the game is that JaJa and his friends are minding their own business when their pet is kidnapped by a pirate known as Captain Momelon. You and your buddies go on a quest to explore different lands in search of your beloved pet, hoping to bring it back to its safe quarters back home. The plot is something that's very familiar and it certainly is something that kids will be drawn into, especially since the cutscenes are quite amusing. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the gameplay is similarly attractive.

There are 5 worlds in total, each consisting of 5 different stages with different challenges or mini-games. The setup is pretty linear: 'Rhythm Matching' in Stage 1 and 3, 'Shoot That Target' in Stage 2, Stage 4 will be 'The Great Escape, and the 5th Stage consists of a challenge different for each world. Each level is presented with a rotating background that shows JaJa and his friends running as if they were on a globe. After each level you complete, you'll be taken to a results screen where you have the ability to save your progress. There's no autosave feature, surprisingly enough - you would think this would have been included since this is a kids game. In any event, if you get a Game Over, you'll be taken back to the Main Menu, so you'll be in trouble if you haven't saved the game up until that point. Now then, let's go into each mini-game in greater detail. 

    First up we have 'Rhythm Matching', a game where you supposedly "groove to the beat". There's a gauge at the bottom of the screen where arrows come from the right. Once it reaches the circular area towards the other end of the gauge, you shake the controller in the direction indicated by the arrow. Successfully doing as prompted will earn you a rating for how well the shake was, from Good to Excellent. And performing multiple shakes without missing will rack your combo until you miss an arrow. In addition to the normal yellow arrows, you also have sets of arrows that will only produce effects if all of them are executed properly. Red arrows will prepare you for either ducking underneath or taking a leap over an obstacle along the path. Missing one arrow will get you to collide with the obstacle in the end, reducing your health by one point. There's also green arrows that will recover lost health, in addition to purple and blue arrows that will unlock hidden items.

The motion controls are pretty accurate here, except for the fact that I found left shakes to be a consistent trouble, requiring much harder shakes. But that doesn't even begin to touch upon the major problems with this mini-game. First thing: What "beat" are they referring to in the manual? Despite the fact that the arrows weren't all well-timed, even when I went in tune with the background music, I still didn't get the best possible ratings. This lead me to believe that this mini-game is more about just performing the action in the short time that you have than following the background music. More pressing is the fact that this mini-game is dreadfully boring. It certainly doesn't help that these segments can last anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes! Don't be surprised if you find your child saying "When does this end?!" when playing this abysmal game.

    Thankfully the mini-games do improve a tad. 'Shoot That Target' is probably the best one of them all. You basically shoot at fruits in the foreground by pointing your Wii Remote at the screen, using the A button to fire and B to reload. You'll also see hidden item pass by if you're paying close attention, and these can replenish health and unlock things in the Extras menu. I found the controls to be good with this one and provided that children have a good grasp of the Wii Remote, one can find this to be enjoyable. I also appreciated the fact that you don't need to hit all the targets in order to proceed to the next level, which I thought was nice. I did notice that at times, the fruits that you weren't supposed to shoot were sometimes triggered because of being close to the normal targets. Additionally, this mini-game suffers from the exact same problem as the one before it, in that it's too long. Thankfully, it doesn't become boring as quickly, but after reaching the halfway point, one will want it all to be over.

In 'The Great Escape', JaJa and his friends must escape from monsters and even giant boulders that are chasing after them. The gauge from the arrow game appears once again, and this time, you'll have a designated box that you'll need to stay in by shaking the Wii Remote constantly. When an enemy gets too close to you, it'll begin to flash repeatedly before charging forward. Thankfully, this game is significantly shorter than the other two games as it'll only take about 6 different obstacles before you're allowed to advance. Thank goodness! Unfortunately, this still isn't a lot of fun.

    As mentioned before, the mini-game on Stage 5 varies for each world. The first one you'll encounter is 'Slide Puzzler'. What you need to do should be obviously simply looking at the name of the game. You use your D-Pad to move one of the pieces that are directly beside the blank space on the board. All of them are numbered and the full image is shown at the bottom, which certainly is a helpful feature. However, considering what's already been seen in the game, some of these can be labelled as rather challenging for a child to try to clear. All of the other four worlds include various activities, such as defending yourself from a swarm of bats, or searching for a specific type of creature in a forest.

    Because your points in Story Mode are of a cumulative nature total, at the end of your journey (and even after every Game Over screen), you'll be able to list your record on the High Scores table. Beating the game can take your child less than 3 hours, depending on how much trouble they have along the way. I'd be impressed if your child has the patience to sit through this to the end, and, if so, to do it without longing for something else. Parents have the ability to play co-operatively with your child in Story Mode, but beyond this feature, there's little reason to return to levels. You can also play against a friend in the Mini-Games mode, using the missions you've unlocked, and some of these may be fun for a while. There are hidden images and videos under the Extras menu, however, in order to go back and get the ones you missed, you'll need to go through every single stage all over again. And yes, this includes the terrible, oft-repeated arrow mini-games. Who would really want to subject themselves through all that?

Although the gameplay does have some slightly-redeeming aspects, as a whole it's pretty terrible. The long levels are the worst part about this game, leading to an overall boring experience. I must admit that although the game itself is lacking in fun, the visuals look somewhat nice. The game is undeniably adorable, and I can see children liking the presentation in this game. The music is childish, reminding me of kids shows from the 90's. However, because the songs repeat so often, they can get annoying pretty quickly if you're watching your child play. The game also suffers from some long loading screens, likely because the levels are so lengthy.

    This game retails for $20 to $30 and there is absolutely no way I can suggest to someone that this is a good buy. There's almost nothing here that's substantial enough to even be worth a rental, let alone a purchase. Don't let the cute visuals fool you into thinking this is a great game for your child, because it's not. Especially in today's economy, it's simply not worth it to invest in a game like this when there are so many games out there that will better satisfy your child. JaJa's Adventure is terribly-marred and should be left alone entirely.

10/30 - Simply Awful

Gameplay 3/10 - Rhythm segments are the absolute worst, some of the mini-games can be somewhat fun at first, many of the stages are just way too long
Presentation 5/10 - Adorable visuals that carry appeal, childish music that gets very annoying, seems like it was easily put together with little struggle
Enjoyment 0/5 - Incredibly boring, not likely to hold your child's interest for long, parents will be hard-pressed to be enthusiastic as their child plays
Extra Content 2/5 - Multiplayer/co-op, meaningless unlocks, score rankings, little reason to return to it, definitely not worth the asking price

Equivalent to a score of 33% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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Smart Series: JaJa's Adventure
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