Disney makes movies children love, but unfortunately they don’t seem to spend the same kind of time and attention in their game division, which results in uneven game packages based on movies. Most children will want the games because of whatever movie characters are displayed on the box, but often the game is discarded shortly thereafter because it just isn’t good enough to hold their attention. The Emperor’s New Groove: Groove Center is just such a game. It has one good game, one really weak game, one mediocre game, and a ridiculous so-called creativity center.
The game opens with Evil Yzma’s map. Yzma explains that this is her world and dares you to face her challenges. There are several highlighted areas on the map. Clicking on anyone of these takes you to the games and activities areas.
At the top of the map lies Yzmania, which is the most challenging and best of the games. Here Kuzco is trapped at the top of a ziggurat. Yzma’s soldiers are climbing around and around the four sides of the ziggurat trying to get to Kuzco. The object of the game is to throw magic potions at the soldiers and turn them into cats and knock them off the platforms.
It sounds easy enough, but the soldiers are four different colors, which correspond to four colors on the top of the ziggurat. In order to knock off a soldier he must be on the platform facing his color. This is not too difficult on level one, but on level three it is very challenging, especially if you’re only eight years old. This is the best game as far as I am concerned and the one that will challenge a child the most.
Further down on the map is Kroc Crusher. Here we find Kuzco suspended from a rope bridge over a river full of hungry crocodiles. He must spit to dislodge boards from the dilapidated bridge to fall and get stuck in the mouths of the crocodiles. This game is not so good. It’s difficult to control the swinging of the rope and the boards seem to fall where they may. I think this would be very frustrating for a young child even on level one. Unfortunately, it will be boring for older children who can see the inherent flaws in the game and will see quickly that improving their dexterity will not improve their performance.
Still further down is Korntopia where the object is to help farmer Pacha plant his garden and harvest the right crops for the king. This is a very simple SIM, like a dumbed-down version of SimFarm. The problem is I don’t know that anyone wants a dumbed-down version of SimFarm. I think younger children will be bored with this and older children will find it too simplistic. It’s mediocre as a game because it does have actual structure as a game and rules that can be discerned and followed; it’s just why would anyone want to?
Finally, there is Loomation, the so-called creativity center. The booklet describes Loomation as place where your child can design an animated tapestry. That sound great, but in reality it’s just a grouping of pictures they can choose from and string together in what amounts to a mini-PowerPoint presentation.
I think once a child has done it a couple of times or maybe even just once they will have had enough of the creativity center. The creativity center is connected to another center in the game called The Marketplace. At the Marketplace children can use their cumulative scores from the other games to buy more art in the Marketplace. Guess how likely I think it is that they will ever get this far?
Disney makes hit or miss games for children. The Emperor’s New Groove: Groove Center is a miss. Its gets a single GiN Gem for having only one good game in the whole package.