Game Review - by James Allen
If you've been following the current trend on this gaming site (and who hasn't?), you noticed that I've been reviewing every single 2002 version Hoyle game under the sun. We are finally at the last one, Hoyle Kids Games. This is actually a collection of games from the other four collections (plus three new ones) that are directed towards kids: games with simple rules that are easy to learn. With a total of fifteen different games to choose from, Hoyle Kids Games should be the ultimate collection to appeal to those people in a specific age bracket. Will Hoyle Kids Games race to the win, or get stuck with the Old Maid?
Like I said in the opening, Hoyle Kids Games has a total of fifteen games, most of which were collected from other games in the Hoyle series. They are pretty much ported straight over, so you can consult the other reviews for the specifics on those games (insert evil laugh here). The twelve copied games are: Battling Ships, Placer Racer, War, Go Fish, Checkers, Old Maid, Speedy Racer, Chinese Checkers, Memory Match, Snakes and Ladders, Hangman, and Crazy Eights. The main innovation made in Kids Games is the addition of a great help system, which explains the game while you go along, rather than all that reading found in other games. At the bottom of the screen, there are four options to help the little ones among us: rules, what now, show me where, and show me how. By using these help items, the game can explain what to do each turn, and how to do it in the game. This is a fantastic feature for a computer game geared towards kids, and for people who like to learn as they go. As for the new games in the collection, we have Tic Tac Toe against a fish, Bump ‘em! (Sorry!), and The Music Game (Simon). When you add these new additions to the rest of the collection, you end up with an effective and complete treasury of kids games conveniently compressed into digital form. There are few games that aren't included, and in this aspect, Hoyle Kids Games succeeds magnificently.
The sound is very good in Hoyle Kids Games. All of the characters are equipped with appropriate, child-friendly responses. The genie (who is your guide in this mystical journey) also explains the rules with absolute clarity, making it easy to understand for the youngsters. For this reason, the sound gets a high . The game sounds themselves are slightly scarce and spotty, but these are greatly overshadowed by the wonderful words and phrases uttered by the participants in the game.
The artificial intelligence has been turned down slightly from the other Hoyle games, to make it easier for the kiddies to end up victorious. For example, winning at Tic Tac Toe was exceedingly easy on the default difficult settings, using the usual strategy for the game. But, since the games are aimed at kids in the first place, this is certainly acceptable behavior. I haven't seen any discrepancy between the games included on the CD and those played in real life, so the transition should be made with ease. All of the games are a blast to play, which results in a great game anthology for kids.
The graphics are OK in the game, most of which are just copied straight over from the other games. The front end is new, and initially confusing: the access to each game is done by clicking on the appropriate icon (without any helpful words) on the screen. For example, click on the Chinese checkers board to play that game. Now, when I was trying to find Tic Tac Toe, I eventually discovered that it was accessed by clicking the fish bowl. At the time, I did not know that the game was played against a fish, so I was utterly befuddled, thinking that this was for Go Fish. The animations within the games are also kept at a minimum for the most part, eschewing a 3-D environment for a flat, 2-D representation. This is OK, but the movement of the pieces are generally sudden and jerky, bringing back the notion that you are playing a computer game, rather than a non-computer game. So, the graphics are just average, but graphics don't need to be overly impressive to convey the game.
Hoyle Kids Games is a fine collection of easy to learn games for kids (which is good, since it's called Kids Games after all). Even though the graphics and sound are quite average, the number of games included with the collection, along with the very helpful genie assistance, makes Hoyle Kids Games a great addition to the Hoyle line and a great idea for the kids in your general vicinity. So, if other games are too mature for the youth, Hoyle Kids Games is a great alternative which should be at the top of your list.