by Vaughn Smith
Noddy's GBA adventure is a great introduction to gaming for young gamers and fans of the popular children's character. While A Day In Toyland is definitely geared at the younger demographic, it should be noted that there is reading involved which may require parental involvement to some degree. Aside from the introductory scenes (text is displayed) that set up the objectives for Noddy in a level however, most youngters will be able to make their way through the game's side-scrolling, jumping and driving levels without a hitch.
Thanks to a thoughtful group of designers, Noddy fans will be able to jump into all of game's levels straight away courtesy of a level select. Being allowed to try out all the levels will surely go a long way in keeping the kids entertained, rather than forcing them to continuously repeat the first few levels if they're having trouble. Of course, the game can be played in order - which definitely gives the game an adventure feel since Noddy will receive new things to do once he completes a task for someone. Playing the game from the start also provides the game's intended learning curve.
The levels are basically broken into side-scrolling platform levels and car-driving levels. The side-scrolling levels primarily involve Noddy having to look for and collect various items, which he then must deliver to the rightful owner. This is accomplished by simply collecting the item by either jumping for it or walking by it - delivery is achieved much the same way in that the item will be instantly delivered to whomever needs it when Noddy makes contact with them. If Noddy's nasty goblin enemies (Gobbo and Sly) appear, Noddy can toss them money bags to quiet them down for a while. As well, Noddy can throw Googleberry Muffins at the residents of Toyland. The platforming aspect requires Noddy to look for coins: 50 will earn Noddy a new Bell, which is the measurement of health in the game. He'll have to jump onto rooftops, use mushrooms to jump to high places such as trees, and he'll also have to listen carefully for branches that are going to break.
The driving levels simply require Noddy to make his way through the roads while attempting to avoid animals and obstacles while collecting coins and other items. Players simply have to move Noddy's car up and down via the D-Pad, so they won't be confused with "gas" and "brake" functions. A quick press of one of the buttons will beep the horn which is helpful to keep the animals off the road.
The game begins easy enough but does eventually provide a decent level of challenge to the extent that it won't be a complete walk in the park, especially the somewhat unforgiving driving levels which will have to be restarted from the beginning if Noddy hits too many obstacles and hasn't acquired new bells to replenish his "health". On the Hard difficulty level collecting Bells is not an option. At any rate there are 3 difficulty levels to choose from which should keep young (and old) players busy.
Visually the game is bright and colorful and easily captures the look of the show. Fans of all ages will recognize Noddy characters which will delight those who are familiar with them. My kids used to watch Noddy so I wasn't at all confused by these strange and wonderful characters like Big-Ears, Mr. Sparks and Tessie Bear. The game even manages to resemble the wooden-puppet presentation of the show. The music is upbeat and whimsical although parents sitting nearby onhand to help with the reading aspect, might want to investigate a little sanity device I like to call "headphones".
I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in terms of the platforming and driving levels because the game did start to feel a tad repetitive, but I'm not 5 years old, so what the heck do I know? Chances are your kids won't even notice that they're doing the same kinds of things over and over.
Certainly we all know there are numerous titles available which are aimed at children that aren't even entertaining accidentally. Noddy: A Day In Toyland is definitely the exception, as it has a lot of play value, non-violent themes (as long as you consider throwing cupcakes and bags of money non-violent), colorful characters and fun gameplay. Any young fan of Noddy and his friends is sure to love spending A Day In Toyland.
CCC Site Director