Anthony on , , , 07 Aug 2008 09:21 pm

Go Diego Go! Safari Rescue (Wii)

Based on Nickelodeon research with preschoolers and their families to determine how the platform’s motion-play capabilities are absorbed by younger children, Go, Diego, Go! Safari Rescue was designed with 13 intuitive Wii-centric motions that maximize the engineering of the Wii Remote for a preschooler. Taking on the role of Diego in a race across Africa, gamers stomp to scare away lions, jump with Baby Jaguar, paint stripes on zebras, climb up ladders and swim across the jungle river by mimicking those actions with the Wii Remote.” (from Metacritic)

After some research on the net, I decided that Safari Rescue was going to be the first game I tried to get Aidan to play on the Wii.  I mean, sure, he likes holding the Guitar Hero guitar and watching the notes scroll by, but he’s not really playing.

The set up

A mosquito lands on a magic wand, turning it into a magician.  The magician decides she doesn’t like elephants and turns them to stone.  Well, some of them.  Diego and Baby Jaguar have to find and use a magic drum that can turn the elephants back.


But, you know, we don’t have to really worry about characters’ motivation do we?  It creates some tension for the kids and gives them a goal.

The execution

The story and controls are explained by Diego in cut scenes.  The cut scenes are just like the TV show, with Diego addressing the audience directly.  The graphics are the same as you’d expect from the show and the character voice is identical too.  OF COURSE THAT MEANS HE’S CONSTANTLY SHOUTING! But somehow Diego’s not quite as grating as DORA!

Gameplay is a typical side-scrolling adventure.  Diego has to travel along the path, jumping over the occasional obstacle, retrieving the occasional object behind trees, rocks, bushes, and sundry other things.  There are platforms that boost him to other areas, trampolines, meerkat holes, zip lines, muddy hills, and other interesting devices to make it a bit more than a simple side-scroller.  Again, the graphics and sounds are essentially what you’d expect from the TV show.  Every once and a while you get interrupted by the backpack or the camera, or the occasional story-advancing cut-scene, but it’s pretty much get Diego from one end of the scene to the next.  There are tokens to collect along the way, and food for various animals, but there is no consequence to not collecting “enough” tokens.  Also, there is no “dying”.  If you fail to jump over some obstacles, Diego trips and mutters something (oops?) but keeps on going.  You can’t fall off ledges.  You can’t fall off swinging vines.  You can’t miss jumping on the swinging vines.

The crowning glory on the game is the control scheme.  You control Diego entirely with moving the Wiimote and a single button.  The Wiimote is held horizontally, and to get Diego to walk to the right, you tilt the Wiimote right.  Want to walk left?  Tilt it left.  Jump is pushing the button.  Which button?  Well, the “2” button (under your right thumb) works.  So does “1”.  I think even “A” works.

Climbing ladders is tilting the Wiimote left, then right, then left, then right, etc.  Getting things out of trees?  Push the button to climb the tree, and then shake the Wiimote.  Push over a rock?  Push the button to brace, then push the rock with the Wiimote.

The control scheme is just brilliant and a full realization of the potential of the Wii.

But it gets better.  The game also has a parental assist mode.  For some of the more “complicated” manoeuvres, a parent, sibling, or friend can perform the exact same motion as the main player with a second Wiimote.  This gets the child beyond parts that might be more difficult, but also brings in an element of teamwork and cooperation.

The reaction

The boy loves this game.  He’s able to follow the story line.  He’s able to perform all the control actions.  It’s not scary.  It’s not violent.  It’s not frustrating.  It’s Diego (for some reason, this is a plus for him, but a minus for the parents).

From an adult point of view, the tasks are repetitive and your focus will wander.  Not so Aidan.  He was thoroughly enjoying himself.  I’m not ashamed to say that he played for over an hour the first time.  We’ve limited his play time since then, though, to about 20 minutes once or twice a day.

The only other down side is that pressing on the “D” pad causes Diego to interrupt and give a little cut scene on how to move him using the Wiimote.  Given that the “D” pad is under the left-hand thumb, this can be very irritating as the toddler accidentally presses the pad again.  And again.  I wish there were some way to prevent the “helpful” cut scene from happening.  Also, the little graphic showing how to use the Wiimote shows a stylized person tilting the Wiimote back and forth.  Aidan tried to duplicate that motion identically and of course all it does is twitch Diego back and forth.  And back and forth.  It didn’t take a long time for Aidan to work it out, but it was a bit misleading.

The verdict

Wow, a home run with the first swing!  This game is absolutely awesome for the preschool set.  It features someone they’ve inevitably seen on the TV.  Gameplay is preschool-friendly, non-violent and non-frustrating.  The Wii’s control scheme is amazing.  It’s both interactive and physically active.  It’s probably not a game for kids much older than … oh 6 or so, but it’s perfect for the 3-6 crowd.

Anthony on , , , 30 Nov 2007 09:50 pm

We rock.


And, oh boy, does he like it when he gets to play too.


Gwen gets her groove on too.


We need a few more kids (um, and guitars) to be like the von Trapps, but Gwen and Aidan try their best at dueling guitars…


Check out the grin below. Clearly an unhappy little boy.


He already tells us what he thinks of our “guitar” playing (“You ROCK mommy!”). Now we just need to teach him how to throw the goat.  Who knew that Guitar Hero would be a family game?!?

Anthony on , , 16 Feb 2007 08:36 pm

So, apparently Paramount’s filming something near by. We don’t know what — “The L Word” often films in the block beside ours — but they are sure lighting up the night. The photos below don’t do it justice.


These lights are shining in our dining room and our bedroom windows. When we put Aidan to bed tonight (or more correctly, when he put himself to bed) and turned off the light, there was a beam of bright white light shining on his wall. Apparently it didn’t keep him awake, though.

It also didn’t seem to interfere with Gwen’s Wii time.


Anthony on , , , , 01 Jan 2007 11:34 am

Oops, no coincidence that after getting our Wii, the holiday posts dried up. Here’s a summary of how things have been over the past week:


Christmas Day was good. Aidan got up around 8:30-ish, and we got a little bit of food and drink into him before showing him the living room. He immediately went to the (set up) train table and began playing with the trains. Now, he hadn’t seen gifts under the tree (we didn’t put them out until Christmas Eve) but their presence didn’t seem to bother him. In fact, I’m willing to be that he would have happily played with the train table all morning! We had the grandparents on the webcam, though, so we had to hurry him along. It took almost 2 hours to work through everything. Not entirely because of the volume of stuff, but more because of the speed. Unfortunately, we don’t have too many pictures. I had the video camera set up and running on a tripod, but frankly things went so slowly that after the tape ran out, I didn’t replace it. We might splice out a bunch of scenes from it, but Aidan didn’t express an over-abundance of excitement. After the excitement of opening the gifts, he actually went down for a nap around 11:30, and slept for 3 or 4 hours. During that time, Gwen and I played Carcassonne. It’s quite a fun tile-laying game. Seems complicated before you play, but it’s actually not. We’ve since played quite a number of games, and neither one of us has dominated, although Gwen absolutely smoked me for the last two we played, beating me by 30 or 40 points (where she had somewhat over 100) each time.

Christmas gifts were light between the two of us. The laptop qualified as a Christmas gift, although two months early. I got a new cell phone (my first non new-to-me cell phone). Gwen got a watch, a couple of sets of earrings and a nifty euro teapot. Although we didn’t know it until Christmas Eve, we also got a new LCD monitor for our desktop computer; the old monitor died earlier that day.

We went to Tammy & Chris’ place that night for Christmas dinner consisting of home made pasta (ravioli in a white sauce). Aidan behaved well with Angus and the two cats in the non-baby-proofed apartment, but we had to leave pretty early after a few failed attempts to get him to go to bed there. Aidan got a nice rain suit from Tammy!



Boxing Day

Boxing Day was our turn for dinner. We had Ali, Tammy and Chris over later that day, but a good portion of the day was spent getting thing ready for it. I made another cranberry-sweet potato dish, and this one tasted better than the Thanksgiving dish. I think it’s a keeper. Gwen made a wonderful turkey … 7 kgs that we’d been thawing for a few days. The turkey was “gratis” from Superstore for spending some outlandish amount of money a few weeks earlier, but frozen more solid than the planet formerly known as Pluto. Even before the dinner, the cats were exhausted (see below). Dinner was great and then Tammy bankrupted us in a friendly game of Halifax-themed Monopoly.


Boxing Day +1

The day after Boxing Day we went out to get Gwen some stuff from The Gap’s Boxing Day sale, and a battery for her watch at Oakridge. While there, we swung by Electronics Boutique (EB) to look at getting a used XBox game and wouldn’t you know it, they were getting a shipment of Wiis at that very time (as Gwen wrote). We ended up picking it up, along with Rayman Raving Rabbids, Zelda: Twiilight Princess, and Trauma Surgeon. And, oh, that night we took custody of Tammy’s two cats (including the 4 month old kitten “Jack”) while they are in Ontario for a short vacation.

then a blur…

The details of the subsequent days are somewhat blurry. Lots of Wii time. We picked up an extra Wiimote, and so we can play most of the Wii Sports together (with the exception of Wii Boxing, for which we need another nunchuck, but they’re much harder to find). I’ve finished the Story Mode of Rayman, but there’s still lots of other things to do. Gwen found Rayman a little frustrating, though. She’s much more into Trauma Surgeon. It’s a nifty concept, and sort of in the style of the old Parasite Eve, but it’s not quite for me. I’ve played an obscene number of hours of Zelda. Although it’s getting rave reviews as “best game ever”, it’s a little too much “on rails” for me. Fable and The Elder Scrolls were a little (or a lot) less linear, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s still a fun game, though. I just wish I could actually spend the rupees I’ve earned (why is it capped at 300 rupees if you can’t spend them?)

Lots of Carcassone too. What a fun game for two people. We have the Traders and Builders expansion too, and I guess we’ll be looking to get some of the other expansions.

The cats have established a pecking order, and are much more interactive than I expected they’d be after a short few days. Keji seems more comfortable after a few days than she did for the whole month she was with us a little over a year ago. She’s actually been up and around instead of hiding underneath the papasan the whole time. The biggest bone of contention seems to be the cat basket. Keji, Jack, and Dianthe have been forcing each other out when given the opportunity. Andromeda has been up and around, but keeps out of the frays. The tree is still up, but Jack has climbed it a few times. All in all, it’s going much smoother than we expected.


Gwen got her hair done on the past Friday. It is quite the stylish cut, and she has quite the arrangements of highlights too. I didn’t get a photo the day she came home, and it hasn’t quite looked the same again, so after she spends some time getting to look “proper”, I’ll be sure to snap a picture.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve in Vancouver sucks. They don’t have any real public celebration. Certainly nothing like the Grand Parade in Halifax. We stayed at home, watched the CBC comedy specials, and turned in early. Woo-hoo! Party on, Garth! Heh, oh well.

So, that was the end of 2006. Here comes 2007!

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