Zhu Zhu Pets is a kind of Nintendogs meets Super Monkey Ball experience where kids take care of up to nine hamsters while also entertaining them by letting them loose in mazes.
The nurturing aspect of the game is quite simple. You tap on a hamster to pick it up, and then you move it to the food bowl, the water bowl, a bed, a toilet, or the exercise area. You can also make the hamster roll over to be petted by dragging a heart over to it or feed it a carrot treat. The little hamsters let you know their needs by floating little icons above their heads.
These cute little animals are also very adventuresome. By dragging a hamster over to the Adventure entrance, you can allow it to explore a fun area of more than 30 mazes set in six themed worlds. You direct your hamster by moving your stylus through the maze. Your little rodent follows. But there are things in these mazes beyond your control, including speed ramps (which send a hamster careening), slide chutes (which make a hamster zoom through), jumping ramps (which send your hamster flying over the maze), tunnel holes (which transport the hamster from one point in the maze to another) and bumpers, similar to those found in pinball games.
These mazes are strewn with coins, carrots, and stars, which your hamster collects by running over them. The more you collect within a maze, the higher your trophy rating at the end of the maze.
In addition to providing collection items, each maze has a goal and an ending flag. Goals can be as simple as finding the flag at the end or asking you to find three hidden keys or a missing baby hamster.
As your hamster succeeds in collecting things and earning trophies, more levels unlock. These levels are constantly introducing new surprises such as the ability to put your hamster in a car, on a skateboard, or inside a hamster ball. The mazes gradually get bigger and ramp up in difficulty.
Zhu Zhu Pets does a nice job of extending the play patterns of this popular toy. In real life, kids enjoy putting their Zhu Zhu pets inside mazes to watch them bump their way through. In this video game, the complex mazes offer exciting visuals around every corner. It's fun to watch a hamsters move at lightning speed by entering chutes. Directing them up ramps or into tunnels is always a leap of faith, because the game never lets you see the whole maze. You see your hamster travel to a new area and must then figure out where to go next. As the mazes get bigger, kids will need to use logic and memory skills to figure out how to get where they need to go. Sometimes the flag at the end can only be reached by launching your hamster up a ramp that sends it flying to an island with the flag.
This game can be played by young kids, because all of its instructions are spoken aloud. Another nice design feature is that it autosaves whenever you turn off the game, except when you stop within a maze.
The ultimate goal of Zhu Zhu Pets is to unlock all nine hamsters. Some are unlocked by finishing certain maze levels; whereas others unlock when you have played the game for a specific amount of time or earned enough trophies. Also fun is collecting the baby hamsters lost in the mazes. The initial release of the game will come bundled with an exclusive baby hamster toy called Baxter for play away from the game.
Kids who love their Zhu Zhu pets will love this game. It creates a fanciful world for the hamsters to explore, with no violence or offensive content. However, if your kids aren't into these collectible rodents, then this game probably won't interest them.
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