Kids can play more than 30 minigames with their favorite movie characters in "Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue Special Edition." for the Nintendo DS and 3DS.
McLean, VA (written by Jinny Gudmundsen/Special for USA Today) --
Adorable Nemo and his befuddled friend Dory are back in a video game adventure starring Nemo's Tank Gang friends. Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue Special Edition is an updated version of a 2006 video game adventure, now for the Nintendo DS and 3DS. Disney released this version of the game to coincide with the September 14, 2012 release in theaters of the 3D version of Finding Nemo.
Kids will find three different game modes in Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue Special Edition.
In the Baggy Mode, players control the Tank Gang characters as they roll through mazes in their plastic baggies filled with water. Kids need to play this mode with the seven different Tank Gang characters (Bubbles, Bloat, Peach, Jacques, Deb, Gil and Gurgle) to unlock all of the games in the Minigames Mode. Each of the Tank Gang characters stars in four minigames. When you have completed a set of four, you can enter the last mode, called Interactive Reef.
When playing both the Baggy Mode and the Minigame Mode, kids can collect shells, the currency of this world. With shells, kids can head to the in-game store to buy fish, decorations and backgrounds for the Interactive Reef Mode. In the Interactive Reef, you can decorate either the ocean or a tank.
Decorating your own virtual reef is fun, but the heart of this game is the minigames played with the characters from the movie. The first time through, the minigames are presented in a story format, with clips from the movie playing before a game inspired by that scene. For example, before playing the minigame called "Riding the EAC" with Bubbles, you see a video clip of Crush, the sea turtle, riding the East Australian Current (EAC). Then you enter the EAC as Bubbles, with the goal of protecting Nemo from other fish. You use your stylus to steer Bubbles and Nemo through rings of air bubbles while avoiding hazards. It's fast-paced and fun.
While the seven maze games are similar, the remaining minigames vary greatly. With the puffer fish Bloat, you must absorb air bubbles to puff up so that you can knock sea urchins out of the way so that they don't damage the easily-distracted Dory. It is hilarious to watch Dory get sidetracked every time a sea mask appears in the water. With the blue damselfish Deb, you use the right and left trigger buttons to tilt the screen 360 degrees to roll a pearl through a circular maze. You need to watch out for -- and navigate around -- the game-ending spikes by tilting the screen in the correct direction. This one is challenging to complete. There are also memory games and others that use quick reflexes.
It may take your child a little time to figure out the layout of this game, but there is always something to do on the screen. Only after you have played for a while do you understand that you must complete the four games for each character before you can visit the Interactive Reef. And by going back to play them a second time in Score Attack mode, you can earn more shells to buy more decorations for your reef. Since these minigames are so much fun to play, kids will enjoy doing this.
Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue Special Edition is a great way to extend your kids' enjoyment of this classic children's movie. Watching the movie clips, especially if you are doing it in 3D on the 3DS, lets you relive your favorite moments in the film. The 31 minigames are varied and interesting; and while kids will have their favorites, all are good. The instructions and tutorials (which appear before you play a minigame) require that your child be able to read, making this E-rated game best for ages 6-10. This is a nifty set of minigames for fans of the Finding Nemo universe.
Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue Special Edition
Score: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
Rating: E (Mild Cartoon Violence)
Best for: Ages 6-10
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios,
Platform: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS
Cost: $29.99 (3DS), $19.99 (DS)
Jinny Gudmundsen is the editor of Computing With Kids magazine