Shaun the Sheep

ShaunSheepThis popular British cartoon from the creators of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run grazes into the video game field on the Nintendo DS. This humorous game entertains in short doses as experienced gamers can conquer the main story mode in a very short period of time.

The story mode consists of the protagonist Shaun, a young genius, collecting a loose flock of 15 sheep before the Farmer returns. Developers even add an entertaining side story of the Farmer’s exploits on the way home. Developers envelop the game with intuitive play throughout the main story, timed minigames and side tasks. The story mode requires considerable skills as simple tasks expand requiring good navigation and memory skills.

The point-and-click action lets player pick up things, which are then automatically put in the inventory, but finding random items in this format can be very time consuming. Gamers might want to remember which bushes they brushed through, as well as several other environmental areas so they don’t grow weary with the item searches. The wide variety of items Shaun cannot use gets repetitive after a while, even though they are comically bumped off the screen with a cow bell sound.

It’s best to stick with the main mission, which is tallied, also automatically, on a clipboard. Developers provide some incentive for Shaun’s side mission of finding a mother hen’s little chicks, mirroring the main storyline’s sheep herding. Players can repeat the minigames (unlockable and existing) to improve their score and peruse through other items like photo stills.

The minigames incorporate variations of familiar game genres including Guitar Hero and Space Invaders while more original fare like a sheep-washing clean-up and whack-a-mole game both utilize the DS touch screen and microphone capabilities.

The map can be a bit hard to distinguish at times. Stars placed on the top screen map show the areas covered. The background music gets repetitive, but follows the familiar tunes on the show. The character expressions and sound effects are great. Fans of the show will enjoy the story, which includes several familiar characters including the sheepdog Bitzer, and many supporting characters.

The humor and popular video game incorporations work well, but the short game length and medium replay value might not be enough for some gamers even at a reasonable suggested retail price of $29.99. Recommended with reservations (**1/2 out of four stars). Definitely a possible series with great potential as the appealing comedy and characters could definitely expand with deeper levels and expanded gameplay.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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