102 Dalmatians is Disney at its Best

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Disney software has produced a winner. I wish all their games were this good. 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue is fun for the entire family and completely playable for children eight and up. If you have an easy to use joystick, younger children might enjoy it as well.

The premise for the game is simple and straightforward. Cruella De Vil and her minions are back and up to no good. They’ve started a toy company with lousy robot toys and they are blaming their lack of sales on pets. Their evil plan: If children don’t have pets to spend their money on, they will buy our toys, so we will steal their pets. That Cruella, she’s rotten to the core. She has Rodney Farzboon, the toys designer, reprogram their chips to turn them into an army of robotic pet-knappers.

Fortunately, Oddball and Domino – two rascally puppies – didn’t listen to their mother. They went outside to play instead of staying home as they were told. When they return home they discover that all the other puppies are gone. The television announces that Dalmatian puppies all over England have disappeared. Dipstick and Dottie, their parents, tell them to stay in the house and watch over the humans, while they go rescue the puppies, but as soon as their parents are gone Oddball and Domino have their own plans.

The game is a straight forward seek and rescue format. Puppies are trapped in boxes throughout various levels. Tumbling into the boxes releases the puppy trapped inside. Each level has 100 bones lying around. Eating all 100 brings its own reward. Each level also has robotic toys whirling around; these have to be destroyed by barking at them or tumbling into them. If they run into you it takes health points away. Periodically a steak or a hamburger can be found. Eat these to restore health to your puppy.

There are really only two difficult tasks in the game, which may require you to assist your child. Cruella’s minions can’t be stopped by barking or tumbling into them. They have to be trapped. You have to talk to all the animals in a level to find out the best way to trap them. This can be kind of tricky. Young children may need help. After clearing all the levels and rescuing all the puppies, Cruella has to be defeated; she’s tough so you’ll probably have to offer assistance there as well.

There also arcade style mini-games throughout the various levels that are fun to play. Some are one-person games and some are two-person games. The main game, however, is just a one-player game. You can choose to play as either Domino or Oddball. It’s easy to keep track of where you are in the game. On the screen it shows you how many bones you’ve eaten on that level and how many puppies you’ve rescued. It shows health in the form of a puppy paw. Every time you get hit, or when you pause the game you see the puppy paw. Each full toe represents one hit you can take. The number inside the paw shows how many tries you have left. When you lose one paw you restart the level, when you lose all the paws the game is over. Finding and collecting a puppy head in the level restores one paw.

Basically, this is a simple game to understand and is pretty easy to play, but more challenging to win. Those of you with small children know that as long as they can play they are happy. Older children are more interested in winning. That’s what makes this game so nice. Children of different ages and even adults can enjoy playing it. I had a good time testing it. It has some puzzles, which need to be figured out, but they aren’t mind-boggling. There are visual clues for how to solve them, which most children will understand although they might need a little help on some of them.

Best of all you can save your game, which isn’t always a given in children’s games. I think this is a great game that is fun for the entire family. I wish all of Disney’s game efforts were this good. I give it 5 GiN gems for being right on target.

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