Tonka: Rescue Patrol Review

Developer: Lucky Chicken Publisher: TDK
Release Date: November 24, 2003 Also On: None

When you’re a fan of a certain system, you tend to get excited when you hear that a game is going to be exclusive to that system because you hope it will lure more people into getting it. However, that isn’t true in every case, as I must say I can’t imagine many people rushed out to get GCNs for this game, although it is an exclusive. Having games like Tonka: Rescue Patrol exclusive is only going to solidify Nintendo’s kiddy image, so I must admit I almost wish this game was multi-console. All of this is not to say that Tonka: Rescue Patrol is a bad game. Indeed, it does what it sets out to do quite well. Unfortunately, what it sets out to do is to provide an entertaining experience for very young kids, and that results in a game that is so simple that nobody over the age of 10 will get much entertainment value out of it.

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Tonka: Rescue Patrol shows some quality in its production, unlike what you would expect from a game of its type. The graphics are not top notch, but they are certainly GCN-caliber. This doesn’t look like a game that was slapped together to make money off of the license, as many games aimed at young children tend to. Indeed, the graphics, while not the most detailed in the world, are good enough that the city looks like a city, the ski resort looks like a ski resort, etc. Everything in the game is a pretty good representation of what it is supposed to represent. Unfortunately, there are few animations. When your vehicle is moving, it looks like the vehicle is just sliding along the road rather than having wheels turning or anything of that nature. Overall, the graphics aren’t perfect, but they are far more than what I would have initially expected from a game like this.

The same can be said about the sound. The music in all four levels seems appropriate to the area you are in. The vehicles sound like what they are supposed to be to a very good degree also. Even the guide, Tonka Joe, sounds appropriate for his character in his voice acting, and his consistent excitement and encouragement is something that will help the young kids playing this game to enjoy it. My one minor gripe about the sound in this game is that Tonka Joe tends to talk too much, and he occasionally says things that are out of place, like telling you to run your horn to get the traffic out of your way when there’s not a single vehicle on the screen except yourself or telling you to turn on a searchlight even though its the daytime. However, those gripes are minor, and young kids will enjoy the effects of the searchlights and the sirens whether they actually accomplish anything or not.

So far as the gameplay goes, this game has a lot of diversity. The player can control all sorts of vehicles, ranging from police cars and fire trucks to cranes and dump trucks. Even a helicopter is used. Each of these vehicles has its own control scheme, but the controls are close enough to each other that the primary audience of the game won’t get confused. Also, there is always an arrow in front of the vehicle to tell the player what direction they are supposed to be going in.

On top of this, Tonka Joe is always there to tell the player what to do, so much so that the game’s difficulty level is practically nonexistent. Tonka Joe babies the player through what is already not a particularly lengthy game, meaning that the game length is only a couple of hours unless the player purposely ignores what they are supposed to be doing. However, in those couple of hours, the player will be operating a variety of vehicles through a variety of environments, so at least the gameplay doesn’t get old on account of sheer repetitiveness.

The gameplay does get old though, at least to me, because the vehicles, some more than others, tend to move at a snail’s pace, and you often have to drive fairly long distances. This means that you will often spend more time driving, either to get the vehicle you need or to get that vehicle to the objective, than you will spend actually fulfilling objectives. I can see where all this driving around might bore some of this game’s potential fanbase, but it is probably not as big of a deal to them as it was to me.

One thing that mildly entertained me about this game is the fact that you don’t have to drive on the street. You can drive through yards and on sidewalks as well, which means that you can knock down signs if you have a need for destruction. However, due to the intended audience of this game, no matter how hard I tried, I could never run down a person, but that’s probably a good thing considering the audience this game is aimed at.

As I mentioned earlier, this game is fairly short and can be completed in a couple hours. There are nine objectives per level, and four levels, with no objective taking significantly longer than five minutes (and the ones that take that long are the exception rather than the rule). After you’ve completely cleared a level, you can’t re-enter it, so replay value is very low unless you want to start over and do the missions over again. Little kids might actually enjoy that, but it depends on the child I guess.

Overall, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this game for anybody, but if you have a young child who’s always asking you when he can play, this game might be a good one for starting them out on, and it’s well worth the small price you’re likely to pay for it if it is meant to be played by a young child. However, if you’re much over the age of ten, and you’re looking for a game for yourself, make sure you’re really desperate before you buy this game.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 2
Final: 6
Written by Martin Review Guide

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