Buzz! Jr.: Robo Jam

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: Magenta Software and FreeStyle Games

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

The most mischievous young robots in the galaxy have been shipped off to the Robot Boot camp where they participate in competitive mini-games to learn to be better robot citizens and strive to land at the head of the robot class.

Kyle Ackerman

Our future robot masters don't want to hear this, but crushing and destroying cute robots is so much more endearing than dropping monkeys from great heights, electrocuting them and watching them fart. The first party game that used the Buzz! buzzers to reach North American gamers was Buzz! Jr.: Jungle Party. Both games follow a similar formula: four players compete in a series of minigames. Most involve either carefully timing the press of the big red button on the Buzz! buzzer or pressing one of the four colored buttons in a simple response to on-screen events.

The controls and games have been refined and polished for Robo Jam, but the biggest difference is that the game doesn't involve monkey torture. The gags were targeted at the right age level in Jungle Party, but relied heavily on fecal humor and doing horrible things to monkeys like tying them to anvils and dropping them off cliffs. Despite the cartoonish theme, and the fact that the monkeys always bounced back, I found the whole thing horrifying, and would have been reluctant to share them with a child.

The same two developers in their sophomore effort have come up with Robo Jam, and it's an improvement in every way. Most of all, the game doesn't feel cruel. When the robots get electrocuted, smashed by a piston or are dropped into an oil bath, they humorously shrug off the damage, dust themselves off and get back in the game. The controls were more responsive, and I felt far more in control of what was happening in the game. Unlike in Jungle Party, I didn't wish I could put down the Buzz! buzzer and pick up the conventional PlayStation 2 controller.

The 24 games set at the Robot Academy are similar to those in Jungle Party. The robots shoot at different corners of a soccer goal, carry hazardous materials to a disposal chute, and jump rope while fleeing from a destructive vehicle. It's all good fun, and perfect for youngsters, whether as a party game or a way to spend time with your kids. By far, my favorite game involved the Simon-says-style of making music with an adorable, tentacled, alien monster, dripping in slime. For all the trappings, it still just involved hitting the big, red button at the right time, and could be easily managed by any age (some with a little parental help).

With the release of Buzz! Jr.: Robo Jam, I can finally wholeheartedly recommend a Buzz Jr. party game for children. It's fun, it's easy to learn, and it's satisfying to play. As always, more games would be welcome, but the cheerful and colorful robots make the simple, current games fun for kids and adults alike. And no monkeys were harmed in the making of this game.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on April 18, 2008 12:47 PM.

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