What if whenever you go to sleep, you could dream about playing with your best friend, who happens to be a big, furry, yellow floppy-eared smiley dragon thing named Buddy. Well that’s the premise behind Buddy & Me, a new downloadable game for Wii U. I’m not sure what’s so different about the “Dream Edition” in the title, but I imagine at one point this was a mobile game. It may be yet another continuous running 2-D platformer, but it’s certainly the most charming one I’ve ever played, as it combines the appeal of Dr. Seuss-like characters with a bit of My Neighbor Totoro for good measure.
When you start the game, you play as either a boy or a girl, who is sleeping in his or her bedroom. Pick the “dream” option from the title screen and Buddy will appear at the window and you’ll dream about playing with him! You’ll run outside your bedroom into a forest and jog along as Buddy flies in the background. You can jump and double jump with the A button, and hold the A button down after your second hop to glide down slowly. You have two minutes to run as far as you can before waking up, although you can pick up items to increase the time. And that’s all you need to know!
As you run, you’ll pick up all sorts of goodies that’ll help boost your score among other things. There are items that’ll increase your time, make you dash faster for a short while, or double the stars you collect. Every so often you may nab a flying rabbit creature. They will add five seconds to your clock if you reach a certain point, and they’ll also catch you if you fall off an edge. But the thing you’ll collect most are stars. These act as your currency when buying upgrades and things in the main menu. But while playing, collecting stars will also fill up a meter, and when it’s full, Buddy will pick you up and fly you above the clouds for a short bonus stage where you can collect more stars! But if you fall off an edge, the star meter will reset, and that’s the only way you are penalized in this game. Sometimes Buddy will help you out in other ways as you run, like letting you swing on his tail or bounce on his belly to reach higher places.
When your time is up, your score is tallied and you can either dream again, or wake up. If you wake up, you can go to the extras menu and spend the stars you’ve collected on upgrades and other goodies. You can buy new outfits for your boy and girl characters, concept art, or purchase upgrades for your next run. I recommend buying that option right away because the upgrades can be really handy. You can choose to have extra time, run faster, or have a star magnet to draw stars close to you. You can also buy new seasons to play in. Supposedly, new seasons in the forest have different challenges, but since the levels are randomly generated anyway, I really didn’t notice.
Really the only problem I had with this game is that it’s yet another continuously running 2-D platformer, and we have enough of those as it is. I would’ve absolutely loved this game if it was just a regular 2-D game, like a Mario title. Also, you can only glide after your second jump, so you don’t have quite as much control over where you land as what I’d like. And after you buy all the items and upgrades, there really isn’t much left to do in the game besides trying to beat your high score. I wish they could’ve added some extra modes, like a two-player simultaneous run, or a parent mode where the kid plays as the boy or girl, and the parent can play as Buddy to help the young child along if he or she has trouble.
But like I said, even though it’s just another continuous runner, it’s the most charming and best-looking one I’ve ever played. The graphics are spectacular. The backgrounds look like something out of a masterfully crafted hand-painted Caldecott award-winning children’s book. And the animated characters look like something out of a heartwarming Nick Jr. cartoon. It’s just so adorable and happy, and we need more games like that in this world.
Nothing violent or objectionable here. If you fall off the edge, one of your flying bunny pals will pull you back up to safety. The only sad part of the game is when you choose to wake up after a run, Buddy has such a disappointed look on his face! Awww! Reading skill is helpful for the text in the menus, but not needed to play since it’s pretty easy to figure out. Some kids might be bored with it after a while, but it’s still a very happy and heartwarming experience. Buddy & Me: Dream Edition is rated E for Everyone.