Buzz! Junior: Dino Den PlayStation 2
Published by: Sony Computer EntertainmentEurope
Developed by: Cohort Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Buzz! Junior: Dino Den could be summed up in one sentence with something along the lines of if you liked the previous Buzz! Junior titles and you want more of the same but with a dinosaur theme with 30+ mini-games then you'll enjoy what Dino Den has to offer. This might seem like a cynical beginning to the review but in all fairness that's exactly what Dino Den is. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course. Despite the usual outcry of complaints that usually follow the release of sequels that don't differ too much, most gamers don't want the formula of their favourite games messed around with. For younger gamers it's doubly important that a sequel doesn't deviate in any dramatic way from the earlier titles in the series and Dino Den certainly doesn't disappoint in this respect.
The game uses the same format that previous Buzz! Junior titles have. You can choose to play a Multiplayer Game, Team Game or Practice. In the Multiplayer Game mode you can choose to jump quickly into a Quick Start game, play a Standard Game or a Custom Game. The Standard game mode allows you to play a Short Game (5 mini-games), Medium Game (10 mini-games), Long Game (15 mini-games) or Marathon Game (25 mini-games). Custom Game allows you to setup a game with the parameters of your choice. If you choose to play the Team Game, the four players are split into two teams of two with the choice being to play either a Short Game (5 mini-games) or a Long Game (10 mini-games). Regardless of the modes and games you choose, the games must always consist of four players with AI players (you can select the skill level of the AI players) making up the numbers if there's less than four.
The quality of the mini-games is all important of course and once again we have a Buzz! Junior game that not only has a good selection of mini-games, but also a good amount of quality mini-games. Once again everything has been kept simple and none of the games are particularly difficult to gets to grip with thanks to the Buzz! controller. You'll play as either a blue, green, yellow or orange dinosaur and you'll participate in games that have you tickling a T-Rex's nose with a feather, games where you have to be the first dinosaur to claim the steak with your fork (by pressing the coloured button that matches the colour of the steak), a kind of dinosaur slot car racing game and a game where your dinosaur has to bang his club hard enough (by repeatedly pressing the red buzzer) to make stalactites fall from the cave ceiling in order to form a bridge in the water below that allows your dinosaur to cross safely. Some of the games are slightly similar to those in previous Buzz! Junior titles but most feel significantly different.
Like the previous Buzz! Junior titles, Dino Den employs a bright and cheery palette that is both visually pleasing and charming for young gamers. The dinosaur character models are quite large and in all of the mini-games are visible at all times. The graphics aren't what’d you call technically excellent but they are certainly good enough. The load time between mini-games isn’t too bad either and you're not left hanging around when going from one game to another (which is important in a game that's squarely aimed at children).
Unfortunately for deaf gamers, the same complaints we had about the previous Buzz! Junior titles also apply to Buzz! Junior: Dino Den. Once more there are no subtitles and deaf gamers are going to be completely unaware of the speech that is spoken whilst you're navigating the menus. The mini-game descriptions and the speech spoken whilst playing the mini-games are also not subtitled. Due to the nature of the mini-games and how intuitive they are it's not a huge problem but nevertheless, deaf gamers should have full access to the information that explains how the mini-games are played. Young deaf gamers could find the lack of information particularly annoying.
As we said at the top of the review, if you're looking for a Buzz! Junior game that keeps everything pretty much the same only applying a dinosaur theme to the mini-games then Buzz! Junior: Dino Den is sure to satisfy. We have seen quite a few Buzz! titles over the last few years however and there's one complaint that's common to all of them, although it's more of a problem in the Junior games. The consistent failure to include subtitles in any of the four Buzz! Junior titles is a little disconcerting and does reduce the appeal of the games to younger deaf gamers. The general quality of the mini-games is as good as ever and there's no doubt the games are appealing to younger gamers. It's just a shame that after four titles in the series, younger deaf gamers are still not getting the full experience.