We’ve had a number of words that decry the trend of tying in popular toys with video games, and it seems as if some game companies and designers may be listening. Case in point would have to be the new Zhu Zhu Pets title for the Nintendo DS, Wild Bunch. Released by Activision (and bundled with an adorable plush hamster toy), Zhu Zhu Pets: Wild Bunch would still be interesting if all of the corporate branding was stripped away. This is due to the fact that graphic design here is sharp, controls are solid, and music continually shifts throughout the title.
Zhu Zhu Pets: Wild Bunch is a title that allows players to properly take care of their Pets, done here by approximating how an individual would take care of a real hamster. This sort of simulation is fairly common in childrens’ titles, but I feel the amount of different grooming tools and unique ways a player can render their hamster will provide just as much fun as the side-scrolling elements that are also present here.
While the game tends to skew a little bit to the younger side, I can conceivably see older players taking the title for a spin. This level design allows the younger set to be able to finish the game with little in the way of difficulty, but requires a little bit more skill if players are looking to fully complete the game. While I am sure that there will be a number of other film and television-related releases continuing to come out for all consoles, I would have to point this title out to up and coming designers as a perfect blueprint for how their game should be. Consider this: at a fairly-normal DS price point ($35), buyers will get a game plus a fun little toy. Can’t beat that value.
Zhu Zhu Pets: Wild Bunch (Nintendo DS; with Zhu Zhu Hamster) / 2010 Activision / http://www.zhuzhupets.com / http://www.activision.com