Attendees at this year’s E3 have seen crashing skyscrapers, slicing and dicing ninjas, and zombies juicier than a ripe beefsteak tomato. But not everything requires a knowledge of warfare or an on-call coroner – Little Orbit showcased several titles for kids and for the kid in all of us.
One of the most popular figures in the world of many little girls is the one and only Barbie, and for years many people have played with her inside her Dream House. For the first time, Little Orbit has brought that famous piece of real estate to life in Barbie Dreamhouse Party for Nintendo consoles. Barbie’s robot butler has been set on evil mode (as robots are wont to do) and has created chaos in the Dream House. It’s up to Barbie to set things right in a collection of mini-games. Players can accessorize and decorate their version of the Dream House, but being with such a young skew, primarily designed for the under-13 crowd, sharing these achievements online via the Miiverse is unavailable. The party begins this holiday season.
For those girls who have advanced beyond Barbie dolls, the new hot ‘tween girl thing is Monster High. The doll lineup of the daughters of classic monster movies have spawned cartoons online and on TV, DVD, even Monster High shoes. A few Monster High games have been released but Monster High: 13 Wishes is the first time the “ghouls” will survive the “horrors of high school” in platforming form.
Picking up where the DVD leaves off, the girls work to banish what is plaguing Monster High and right what’s wrong in the Ghoul School. Just like the show focuses on the friendship and teamwork between the girls, the game features several playable characters, each with their own unique abilities. Frankie, the daughter of Frankenstein’s monster, falls apart when embarrassed, but this becomes useful as she can unsew her hand to get into tight corners and grab objects. Frankie was the character I got some hands-on time with (pun intended). The graphics were fluid and reminiscent of the cartoon, and the original voice actors were involved. It played simply but would present an adequate challenge for 10-14 year old gamers.
Other playable characters include Abbie, the daughter of the Abominable Snowman, Draculaura, of the famous Dracula lineage, and Clawdeen, the Wolfman’s daughter. Monster High: 13 Wishes is scheduled to drop around the same time as the DVD, in October 2013.
For the boys, Little Orbit’s offering pleases superhero fans of all ages – and genders, for that matter. Young Justice: Legacy comes to life on the Xbox 360 and PS3, based on the DC cartoon of the same name aired on Cartoon Network. The series aired for two seasons; between the two seasons, five years passed in the show’s universe. The game plays out during that five-year gap. Striving to maintain continuity, the show creators provided consultation and approved the final product as canon.
Players lead a team of three superheroes-in-training, choosing from a roster of twelve, with more to be offered as DLC. The squad-based action adventure features single-player and couch and online drop-in/drop-out co-op, with multiplayer missions bringing added benefits. The game features RPG elements as well, with the ability to level up characters and augment abilities through experience; hence, having an Aqualad stronger than a Superboy may not make sense in the DC universe, but in the game world (and in the world of Young Justice, superheroes in training) is perfectly acceptable. In addition, characters can also be equipped with gadgets designed to enhance their superpowers from none other than WayneTech.
All the voice actors from the cartoon return to reprise their role, including Young Justice’s mentors Batman, Superman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern. Players can form their squad from teen superheroes such as Superboy, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Nightwing, and Miss Martian. Young Justice: Legacy blasts off for the good of the universe in September of this year.