The Motherloot Blog: Product Reviews

Giveaway Results: Yo Gabba Gabba New Friends DVD

yo-gabba-gabba-new-friends

Thank you to everyone who entered this great giveaway. We would like to congratulate Wendi Smith (Commenter #133) on winning this and making her great suggestion to have Reese Witherspoon guest star on the show. We couldn’t agree more and loved all of your great suggestions. Please check back each Tuesday for a

I don’t know about your kids (or even about you), but our family is a huge fan of the Yo Gabba Gabba series. I was so excited to hear that they have a new DVD, called Yo Gabba Gabba!: New Friends!, coming out. Even better is that we can give a copy away to you!

Jack Black joins the cast of the critically acclaimed, popular live-action preschool program, Yo Gabba Gabba!, when it’s newest DVD hits retail April 7.  Using upbeat music to highlight simple life lessons and universal experiences in the lives of preschoolers, DJ Lance Rock hosts and brings to life four friendly monsters and one robot in a colorful land full of music and laughter. Yo Gabba Gabba!: New Friends! features 4 new-to-DVD episodes that teach your children to handle emotions and social situations through dancing and games.

To enter to win a copy of this DVD, tell me what celebrity would you love to see rocking it out on Yo Gabba Gabba. Please leave your comment by Tuesday (04/14) at 8PM EST to be entered to win this great DVD. Thank you for entering and good luck to each of you!

Pikmin Wii Game

pikminWe had the chance to review a rather interesting new game for the Wii called Pikmin recently. It’s a remake of a game that came out way back in 2001, so if your kids played that one, there’s not a lot different for them this time around.

The concept is simple: A little guy has crash landed on a planet and the parts of his ship are scattered everywhere. He’s about 2 inches high, so it’s not like he can just walk over and pick up the pieces. The environment is like something out of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids where a small rock is a mountain of an obstacle and simple bugs are monsters.

Luckily, you quickly find help in your quest, and it’s what this game is all about. There’s these little seed creatures that apparently think of you as their mother and will blindly follow you wherever you go. You direct them to create more creatures, tear down obstacles, and battle bugs on your hunt for parts of your ship. There are 3 different types that you can direct, each with their own capabilities and you have to figure out how to leverage them to gain access to different areas of the world.

The crux of the game is to figure out what needs to be done to find the next part of your ship. What makes that difficult is the time limit the game imposes on you. You have 30 game days to gather what you need before your air supply runs out and you apparently die some horrible death. Each day is about 15 minutes long, so you need to get whatever you plan on doing done in that amount of time.

This is what can make the game frustrating for kids who oftentimes just want to explore and have fun. If you really want to make progress, you’ll have to hit the ground running and solve puzzles as fast as you can. Otherwise, it will be impossible to complete it within the time given. If you do really screw up one of the days, you can go back to a previous day and try again, but it would have been nice if the game allowed more freedom for the kids just to do whatever they want. Furthermore, you don’t have much area to explore unless you do make progress, so you’ll get extremely tired of seeing the same blades of grass and flowers if you’re just looking to explore.

The kids did enjoy the fact how everything was giant and got a kick out of directing a mob of 100 creatures around (which really is fun for a while), but quickly grew frustrated when they couldn’t proceed past certain points in the time given. I think without the time limits, they would have been able to think about and try different tactics, but ever-present push to make progress all the time took some fun out of it. In the end, it’s a cute and unique concept, but younger kids will probably need assistance in the difficult parts or they’ll quickly abandon it.

Suggested Retail Price: $29.99

Website For More Details: Pikmin Wii Game

Roku Digital Video Player

roku1When I was contacted by Roku to see if I would be interested in trying their player I was immediately intrigued. I can admit it. I am a total gadget nut and this sounded like a very cool gadget for a family like ours.

This little box hooks up to your television and allows you to play the movies on Netflix on your television. Many times people are streaming shows on to their computers which is not always convenient or comfortable. Instead, this little player can hook up to your home entertainment system and give your entire family the opportunity to watch something together on the couch.

With this player, Roku is providing families with a fun and affordable alternative to home entertainment.  The company has teamed up with Netflix to offer customers the ability to instantly watch more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes, including new releases and hundreds of options in HD, streamed directly to your TV. The best part, if you are like most Netflix customers and on a Netflix Unlimited plan (any plan that costs $8.99 a month or more); there are no limits to how much you can watch instantly.

The only downfall with the product is that you really do need to have a high speed internet connection. We only have a DSL connection so the viewing can be a little bit like watching something on You Tube. It is also not necessarily for families who have a computer hooked up to their television and are already streaming movies. (Raising Hand) Yup, that would be my family! My husband enjoys having the world’s largest web browser.

All joking aside, the Roku Player is surprisingly easy to use and simple to integrate into any home entertainment system. The interface is extremely clear and hook up took literally a couple of minutes. For homes with wireless Internet connectivity, the player is Wi-Fi enabled and offers the ultimate in placement flexibility. With the player’s accompanying remote control, members can browse and make selections right on the TV screen and also have the option to pause, rewind or play anytime just like a DVD.

If Netflix doesn’t offer enough movie options for you or you are looking for a movie that is not available online, Roku will soon be partnering up with Amazon Video on Demand where customers can download  movies (cost ranging from $.99-$3.99 per download) and can watch that movie for 24 hours on their Roku box.

With the economic downturn, many families are looking for affordable ways to be entertained at home. Roku offers a fun and innovative way to offer a little movie varation to that family night!

Suggested Retail Price: $99.99

Website for More Information: Roku

Bratz Ponyz 2 Nintendo DS Game

For this review, I passed the torch on to a family of  some of my very favorite little girls, The Wegner Family! My daughter was a little too young for this product, but I always know I can count on my friend Michelle to help me in my time of need. To learn more about their family, please visit Michelle Wegner! A big thank you to Maddie for helping us and sharing her perspective on this product.

bratz-ponyz-2My daughter Maddie got her one Christmas wish this year-A Nintendo DS.  One of the games she received was Bratz/Ponyz 2.  Read what a 10 year old has to say about the game.

Tell me the main idea of the game.

The player is the Pony, and the idea is to get the pony to collect hearts (points) and to finish all the game agendas by completing the games.

How many games are there to complete?

You have to play the same games over and over to complete the agenda.  There are some games that change every other time.

What do you like about this game?

Sometimes when you complete a level, you can earn another island, which means you get on a ship or hot air balloon and fly or sail to the new place.

So…what do Bratz or Ponyz have to do with the game?

Bratz is just the name brand.  There are no Bratz in the game (My Mom doesn’t like us to play with Bratz dolls).  The ponyz look like regular little ponies, but they are all different colors.

What don’t you like about the game?

You have to repeat the games over and over again and sometimes they get a little boring.

You are 10.  Do you think this is a good game for someone your age?

It depends on what their personality is.  If they were a tomboy, I wouldn’t recommend it.  If they were a girly-girl, I would recommend it.

Is there anything else you would like to say about Bratz Ponyz?

You can put make-up on your pony, put glitter or highlights in their hair, pick out their shoes, and change the background.

Out of 5 stars, how many stars would you give this game?

3 and a half.

Suggested Retail Price: $22.99

Website for More Details: Bratz Ponyz 2

Lego Batman Rocks Our Blocks Off

We’ve covered a lot of games for the Nintendo Wii and DS lately, but understand not everyone has the latest and greatest video game systems. Maybe you have the trusty PlayStation 2 and are unwilling to shell out a car payment or two to for the PlayStation 3. Fear not! They are still releasing new games for the PS2 and one of the latest is Lego Batman.

Released just in time to ride the coattails of the latest movie, this game has nothing to do with the film and is a nothing like it. You play as Batman and Robin, taking on numerous classic foes like the Joker, Penguin, and Poison Ivy. As you advance however, you can take on the role of the villains, which adds a really great element to the game. Following the same formula of previous games in the series, the characters and various objects in the game are all Lego bricks. No blood and guts here, just unadulterated Lego on Lego violence.

The storyline is original and campy fun. Since the characters don’t speak and there aren’t even subtitles, it relies heavily on physical humor and expressions. Robin is an idiot and the interactions between him and Batman in the cut scenes make them really enjoyable to watch. A lot of the humor is subtle and would probably be lost on some kids.

The game is fairly straightforward and is closer to a puzzle than a fighting game. The enemies up until the main villains provide no real challenge at all. Just press one button repeatedly and your duo will dispose of them quickly. The challenge comes when you have to figure out how to get past the obstacles in the game. Besides switching between the two characters you can pick up suits along that way that give you various extra abilities such as being flame retardant or magnetic boots. These obstacles however are also the game’s biggest downfall.

Oftentimes you’ll be at a complete an utter loss as to what to do next, and it’s not because of some clever puzzle, but because the switch or whatever you need to pull doesn’t stand out at all. There are some instances where it’s obvious what you’re supposed to do (turn a wheel) but how to do is non-intuitive (stand on it to make it rotate, which defies physics, instead of using your hands like any normal superhero would actually do). This leaves you frustrated rather than feeling a sense of accomplishment.

On the upside are the levels where you get to pilot one of the various vehicles in the game. Sometimes you’re racing around in the Batmobile or flying your Batwing. Other times you hop into a Lego forklift and lay the smack down on every trashcan and streetlight in sight. No matter what your vehicle of destruction is, all are a blast and do a good job of breaking up the monotony of the standard gameplay.

Finally, the reply value of the game is really high because there are a ton of unlockable awards and characters that you can then go back to the same levels and use to complete them in an entirely different way. This will keep your kids coming back for more for quite a while.

Ignoring the frustrating obstacles, the game is very fun. As there are a lot of beatdowns that go on, you’ll probably want to hold off if you have young kids. For everyone else, get your baterangs ready for some Lego block destruction!

Suggested Retail Price: $27.99 (for the PlayStation 2)

Website for More Details: Lego Batman

Noodleboro Pizza Palace Listening Game

I recently posted about some of our favorite family board games and Hasbro contacted us to see if we would be interested in reviewing some of their products. They sent over some really great classic games like Operation, Trivial Pursuit, and the Cranium Family Edition.

Tucked in there though was a perfect game for our little children  called Noodleboro Pizza Palace that I had not heard of before. This game was a unique game that works on building listening skills through a fun preschool board game.

The concept is simple and straightforward. You can give your kids little plastic pizzas and then you have a deck of cards that you can draw from to pick your toppings for the pizza. Depending on the age of your child, you can pick as many or as few of toppings as you feel they can remember. The toppings you can choose from can be the traditional pizza toppings, but they can also be silly toppings (like a shoe) which is a surefire way to get your children giggling.

For the game, you show your child the cards you have drawn and then you flip them back over so they can’t see them. This is when they look through their box of toppings and find the toppings that you requested and have to remember what you said you wanted for toppings. Listening skills are the focus of the game so you are trying to see if they listened well enough to remember your topping requests.

There are other elements tucked into the game like a story that shows what can go wrong in a pizza palace if people don’t listen. There is also an audio disc that the children can listen to and build on the listening skills focus.

This game is geared towards children between the ages of three to six years old.

Thanks Hasbro for adding your great games to our family nights.  We truly believe board games are a great frugal way for families to enjoy time together and can’t wait to spend evenings incorporating your wonderful games in our collection.

Suggested Retail Price: $9.99

Website for More Information:Noodleboro Pizza Palace Listening Game

Giveaway: Build-A-Bear Workshop Game for Nintendo Wii

Thank you to all who entered our giveaway! We are happy to announce that commenter #41, r. robinson, was the winner! Congratulations to their family!

“My daughter is a straight A student who greatly desires a Build a Bear. I have been unable to purchase this item for her. This game will be a great treat for her. Her grandparents are planning to buy her a Wii for Christmas and this game would be an awesome gift to find under the Christmas tree.”

Now that I am back from my vacation, I am so excited to start our weekly giveaways back up! Today we will be offering two luck winners a new family game for your Nintendo Wii.

The game is called Build-A-Bear Workshop for the Nintendo Wii, and it is a family-friendly game perfect for young children. The game is for children three and older, and will be released very soon!  It encourages multiple players, making it ideal for a birthday party or family game night. In the game, players create a stuffed friend, and then guide him through a series of fun and challenging games and obstacles. Build-A-Bear Workshop was released on the Nintendo DS in 2007 and received rave reviews, and the Wii version promises to be even better!

To enter, please leave a comment and share your favorite Nintendo Wii game that you play with your family. If you don’t have any games yet, please share why this one would make a good start to your collection. Please leave your comment here by 10/28 at 8PM EST to be included. One entry per person and US residents only. Thanks & good luck!!

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Loved those “find the hidden objects” puzzles in Highlights magazine as a kid and want to introduce your own spawn to the glee of finding a needle in a haystack? Well hold onto your hat because we’ve got just the game to do it. Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is a new game for the Nintendo DS that takes this concept and wraps it in a new package for today’s generation.

Million Heir’s story is simple, a rich guy has gone missing and it’s up to you to solve the mystery. Make no mistake, this is no Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew conspiracy that requires keen interrogation skills or psychic -like intuition to solve. All you need is a keen eye because you’ll be hunting the most irrelevant clues you’ve ever come across. Seriously, the hidden objects that you must find to unravel the clues have nothing to do with anything. Found that scalloped shell and bowling pin in the tool shed? Great! Now go find an alien in the garden (no, the alien isn’t even a suspect). That said, the nonsensical clues aren’t really the point. Hunting down these camouflaged objects is what it’s all about.

Maybe your kids will get a hold of this and think, hey, I’m tired of using my eyes, I’ll just click around randomly like I’m having a caffeine seizure and beat this silly little game! That might work for a while, but the game introduces a good mix of tools that you’ll have to use in later stages to find the clues such as flashlights for the dark and a super straw for blowing out fires. There’s also a healthy mix of puzzles and amusing mini-games to break up the repetitiveness.

Even though you visit each stage more than once, the items you have to find are different each time. Since there are dozens and dozens of hidden objects, but you only need find the handful on your list, you’ll find yourself taking mental notes that the knight is wielding a hammer for some odd reason for the next time you return. In addition, there is a good sense of humor mixed into the scenes that your kids might not catch but will certainly make us older folk giggle.

Despite the fact the game can be completed by a determined spy in a couple of evenings and the objects are always in the same place, the sheer number of things to find are plentiful enough to keep your kids coming back for more than once. The art is great and the mood music is exceptional, making it a treat for the senses. A wide range of ages would enjoy this game, though I would recommend being available when they’re struggling to understand what a halberd or obelisk even is, much less where it is hidden.

The game is available for just under $20 bucks. If your kids enjoy this series, there’s a number of previous Mystery Case File games that can be played on the computer.

Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

Website for More Details: Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir