Now your kids can have all the fun of Build-A-Bear Workshop without having to go to a noisy and crowded shopping mall. Young players can create their own furry pal and go on adventures around town to make new friends with Build-A-Bear Workshop: Friendship Valley for Wii and Build-A-Bear Workshop: Welcome to Hugsville for Nintendo DS.
In Friendship Valley on Wii, first you pick a critter to play as. And it doesn’t have to be just a bear, either. There are dogs, cats, monkeys, even a moose! I picked a Siberian Husky as my character, just like my old dog Chief. Then you get your very own new house in Friendship Valley. After greeting Mayor Bearemy at City Hall, he tells you that the town is preparing for the biggest friendship celebration festival ever, and it’s up to you to help get everything ready for the big bash!
You’ll walk around the neighborhood, market, countryside, and nearby forest, meeting all the citizens and helping them out. Most of your tasks end up being fetch errand quests to find another friend in town or pick up an item to give to someone. Sometimes you’ll have to play a mini-game using the Wii remote and nunchuck. For instance, make stirring motions with the remote to help the baker make cookies, pies, and other treats, or pump the remote up and down to get water so you can plant flowers in the gardens around town. Sometimes you’ll even play sports with other animals, like skateboarding and basketball. You can challenge friends to some of these mini-games in Multiplayer Mode as well. Point the Wii remote at the TV to take photos of your furry friends, too.
Friendship Valley has a somewhat open-ended, do-what-you-want style of gameplay. In many ways, it’s like Animal Crossing for very young players. You can decorate your house with furniture, plant whatever you want around town, go fishing, and make friends in the neighborhood. But it’s not completely open ended. Once you’re on a mission to help a friend, you usually can’t take on any other quests when talking to other animals. Other problems include some unresponsive motion controls in the mini-games and some bad camera angles.
However, Build-A-Bear Workshop Friendship Valley is surprisingly robust for a kids’ game. And the colorful 3-D town is fun to explore with lots of things to do. So kids probably won’t get bored with it quickly.
Build-A-Bear Workshop: Welcome to Hugville on DS is similar in design to the Wii game. First pick a furry friend to play as (this time I picked a cute penguin). But in the DS game, most of what you do is play touch screen based arcade style mini-games with your neighbor critters (and you can play multiplayer games with a nearby friend who has a DS and a copy of the game). You can still customize your house, plant gardens, and explore new areas. But you view the action in top down fashion with 3-D graphics instead. Hugsville on DS is decent, but not near as robust as the Wii game, so kids might get bored with it faster. Both games have codes you can unlock that when entered into the Build-A-Bear Website, opens up even more goodies online.
Kids will love the colorful graphics, catchy music, and cute characters, as well as the customizable, open ended gameplay that puts them in control. Older gamers might get bored with the endless errands and fetch quests, though. Reading skill is a must in the DS version, but some of the text in the Wii game has spoken voice, and picture cue instructions to let you know how to move the remote for the mini-games. Both Build-A-Bear Workshop games are rated E for Everyone.