Miffy's World Wii
Published by: PAN Vision
Developed by: Biodroid Entertainment
The Miffy series of books by Hendrick Magdalenus Bruna (known to millions simply as Dick Bruna) have been entertaining young children since 1955. The books are an excellent way for a child to develop their early reading skills and the simplistic yet beautiful artwork helps to attract even the most reluctant of young readers. Miffy’s World is a downloadable Nintendo WiiWare game available for 1,000 Nintendo Points. It does a good job of replicating the world of the ever so cute rabbit but it’s problematic to say the least for young deaf children.
In Miffy’s World there are five destinations for you to visit. There’s the zoo, the mountains, the forest, the beach and there’s even a location where you’ll find Miffy’s home, the homes of her friends and even her school. You’ll hop onto Miffy’s bicycle and visit these locations as you carry out various tasks for an assortment of characters such as Boris, Barbara, Poppy, Grunty, Melanie, Snuffy, Aunt Alice and Miffy’s teacher.
There are puzzles to solve, objects to find and an assortment of other quests too. There are pictures to colour in, spot the differences to solve, memory match puzzles (where you have to pair off two cards), shapes that have to be placed in the correct locations, objects to collect and much more besides. Older children will find it all too simple but this is a game that’s squarely aimed at pre-school or young infant school children and the difficulty level has been pitched well for its target audience. Only the Wii remote is required and the mini-games and puzzles require nothing more than simple and intuitive point and click actions.
There are times of course when your child won’t want to play Miffy’s World by themselves and the game does offer support for a parent or other carer to join in. The helper can either play as Miffy’s father or mother. Rather than getting in your child’s way, you’ll simply accompany your child and have a star shaped cursor that you can use to indicate to your child what they should be clicking on. This is a good way of assisting your child without feeling as though you’re doing it all for them which can often result in them becoming bored and disinterested. Of course they are free to ignore your hints and carry on as they see fit but at least they remain in control of the game and that’s the way it should be. The game even allows you to set a time slot when you’d like your child to be able to play the game by selecting a start and an end time (this is completely optional). When their time for playing the game comes to an end, they’ll be taken out of the game and see a picture of Miffy asleep. You’ll also notice the sun setting as the game time comes to an end.
The developers deserve full marks for the look of the game. The artwork looks just as it does in the books and whilst it’s simplistic, it’s just what Miffy fans would expect. The game is 2D and each of the locations are wrap-around, that is to say that you can keep going from left to right (or vice versa) to keep walking around. This may seem extremely simplistic but it takes all the frustration out of exploring for a young child and the 2D nature of the game means there are no camera angle woes to deal with here. As a piece of Miffy paraphernalia, Miffy’s World is visually spot-on.
As adorable as Miffy’s World will be to Miffy fans, the game, unlike the books, does absolutely nothing to improve your child’s reading skills. In fact, it’s a massive disappointment that Miffy’s World isn’t subtitled at all which makes the game practically useless for deaf children. There are no text tutorial messages, no instructions for the mini-games and all of the dialogue between characters is speech only. Some puzzles also rely on the ability to hear making them completely unsuitable for a deaf child. In the school room there’s a puzzle that requires you to match a given sound with the correct animal. Needless to say this would be impossible for a deaf child. In essence then, it’s not a game for a deaf child to play and that’s a huge disappointment.
It can’t be easy to create games for very young children and it’s to the developers’ credit that Miffy’s World mostly hits the spot. They’ve captured the look of the books’ artwork to perfection and hearing children will also notice that the narrator is the same person who narrates the TV series. The mini-games and puzzles on offer here are pitched just right for young children and it’s a nice touch that allowance has been made for a parent or other family member to join in and assist. In fact for young hearing children this would be a great purchase. For deaf children it’s another matter entirely however and it’s practically impossible for a deaf child to be able to enjoy the game.