previews\ Oct 10, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Build-A-Bear Workshop - NDS - Preview

Built around the license of a stuffed animal store, it may be easy to write off Build-A-Bear Workshop as little more than licensed drivel. However, that would be a mistake, as the title has a surprising amount of depth to it if you give it a chance. Developer Neko Entertainment has done a fine job of taking the compelling pet-sim elements from games like Nintendogs and meshing them with some fun stylus based mini-games to make the experience interesting. More than your average kids’ game, Build-A-Bear Workshop is a fun and surprisingly addictive game with a good amount of content.

Naturally, the first thing that you’ll do in Build-A-Bear Workshop is create your stuffed animal. Whereas other games in the pet-sim genre have you choose between your avatar and occasionally name them, Build-A-Bear Workshop has you not only do these things, but also has you do the things you would when creating your own stuffed animal at the store. You’ll pick out clothes, fill them with stuffing and even sew them up when all is said and done.

Once you have your stuffed animal, you’ll have to take care of them in order to keep them happy. This includes feeding them, playing with them, and putting them to bed when they need it. Most games in the genre would have you simply pressing an icon and food will magically appear, but Build-A-Bear Workshop requires you to get your hands a little dirty and prepare food yourself. In the game, you’ll have to make cakes to feed your friend, using the stylus to mix ingredients in a saucepan and cook in the stove. As you earn points and progress, you’ll be able to buy new clothes for your character to wear, as well.

Additionally, the games that you play with your buddy are fully interactive. Some of the games are pretty simple stuff, like trying to swing your stuffed animal on a swingset and kick a soccer ball through a goal using momentum gained by dragging the stylus. However, there are some games with a fair amount of depth to them, like the dancing mini-game. By drawing shapes on the touchscreen, you’ll get your character to perform certain dance moves, like moonwalking or waving. There is even a Dance Dance Revolution-like mini-game where you’ll have to draw shapes to the beat in order to gain points (this particular mini-game is multiplayer, as well).

Graphically, Build-A-Bear Workshop is surprisingly well done. The characters are done using 3D polygons and stand out very nicely on the DS, and the game feels very bright and colorful throughout, much in line with the game’s kid-friendly themes.

Build-A-Bear Workshop has a lot of substance to it, and the deep mini-games and pet-sim elements should make it a title that stands above its peers in the genre. Look for it to release later this month.

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