Hoyle Kids Games
Although all the games in the Hoyle series are perfectly suitable for children it didn't stop them having a dedicated children's title in Hoyle Kids Games. This years Kids Games compilation comes with 15 games and they are as follows:
Battling Ships Checkers Chinese Checkers Crazy Eights Go Fish Hangman Old Maid Placer Racer Snakes and Ladders Speedy Racer The Music Game Tic Tac Toe War Bump 'em Memory Match
The game includes elements from the other Hoyle games; the characters have, for the most part anyway, appeared in other games. Characters that are specific to Kids Games include Pepper the Dalmatian, Penny the Pony and Capt. Scurvy the parrot. All of the characters are amusing but as their conversations are not subtitled the deaf gamer will be completely unaware of their banter and you may as well disable the character speech before the games start.
In fact Kids Games has more verbal information that is not subtitled when comparing it to other titles in the series. The main screen, the section where you choose which game to play is actually a picture of a child's bedroom. Instead of using clear text that displays the name of the game, Kids Games uses objects within the room to represent the game. Some of these objects, such as the checkers board, are fairly straight forward but others are not. If you leave your mouse over an object for a short while a question mark appears and clicking the question mark will make the genie, who is at the bottom left of the screen, verbally tell you what the game is. This is unsubtitled and a deaf gamer will have to click on it to play the game in order to find out what it represents. The manual somewhat compensates for this but why should deaf gamers have to refer to their manual when hearing gamers do not.
The problems for deaf gamers does not end there. During a game there are four buttons at the bottom of the screen that are supposed to act as a source of help. These buttons are Rules, Show me how, Show me where and What now? Only the Rules button actually provides information that gives text as well as speech. The other buttons give verbal information only from the genie. Whilst playing Old Maid I noticed that if you try to perform an incorrect action a voice gives you instructions about what to do, this wasn't subtitled either.
Despite these shortcoming for deaf gamers the compilation is still enjoyable and it is good to see some of the games slightly modified to suit a younger audience. Checkers, for instance uses frogs and Lilly pads instead of the traditional boards and pieces. Even the Facemaker that enables you to create a character to use for yourself has been modified and now includes masks.
When I first looked through the games that were in the compilation I saw The Music Game and instantly thought that it would be a major problem for deaf gamers. You are shown a small xylophone. Notes are played on the bars of the xylophone and the player has to repeat the notes by clicking on the bars of the xylophone. Of course the music notes could cause problems for deaf gamers but thankfully as each bar plays it glows, so for deaf gamers it becomes a game of remembering the sequence of bar glows rather than memorising the musical notes.
Hoyle Kids Games has it's problems for deaf gamers but nevertheless it is still a worthy purchase. The manual explains what the objects represent on the main screen and also how to play the game. The rules of each game are also given in text in the game. This compilation will keep younger gamers, or young at heart gamers, busy for a very long time. Let's hope the next release of Kids Games irons out the niggles we have with it.
Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10 There are one or two problems for deaf gamers but this is still a solid and entertaining compilation.
Deaf Gamers comment: There is plenty of verbal information that is not subtitled but overall it is still a worthy purchase.