While visiting her Grandpa Ted in the mountains, Emma helps to solve a mystery of why the groundhogs aren't around, even though it's spring and well past the time for them to have awakened from their winter hibernation.
Told in a story format with 15 activities interspersed throughout, the game asks kids to solve a nature mystery by visiting different locations, playing mini-games, and talking to both humans and animals.
To play this video game, kids need to be old enough to read, since it unfolds through written dialog spoken by Emma, her cousin Andy who accompanies her, Emma's talking dog Pickles, and others.
As you play through the story, all of the activities become unlocked for play separate from the story mode. You also unlock bonus materials, including coloring games, jigsaw puzzles, and nature fact sheets. And once you have finished the story, you can play through it again on a harder difficulty level.
This isn't a typical arcade-type kids' game, but rather a cute nature story with a variety of interactive elements and mini-games. For example, as you start on your journey to find the missing groundhogs, you stop to have a snowball fight with your cousin. Every time he pops up to throw a snowball at you, if you tap him first, your snowball will careen across the screen and throw him off balance. In another, you use the DS stylus to wipe away the snow so that you can find your dropped keys.
The storyline explores how groundhogs fit into the food chain of animals found in the mountains, and some of the mini-games even have a pro-environmental theme. For example, in one, your goal is to find trash, left by tourists, which is polluting the groundhogs' environment. In another, you match footprints in the snow to the animals that made them.
There are also maze games, a build-a-snowman activity, an up-scrolling chase game, as well as activities that take advantage of the DS functionality by using the microphone as well as the touch screen.
While the story is entertaining and features a positive girl role model, the story mode is rather short. Also, while the minigames are varied and fun within the context of the story, they don't have much depth, so kids may not spend much time replaying them. And a few, like the toboggan games have mushy controls, which can make you lose the race.
This is a good game for kids who like nature and enjoy reading. But because it's not your typical fast-paced video game, and it’s a little pricey for the short story, you might want to rent this one first before you buy. If your kids like Emma in the Mountains, there is a second game in the series called Emma at the Farm.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.