Crayola Treasure Adventures
Reviewing games that are clearly designed for children is a fraught activity - and it's worth saying from the very outset that if you're even within spitting distance of puberty, let alone actually through the whole traumatic thing, then you shouldn't touch Crayola Treasure Adventures with a bargepole, let alone a stylus.
It's about travelling around, talking with a suspicious red crayon and colouring things in, and not in an arty, "child-like-wonder" Okami sort of way; this is the kind of game where the red crayon regularly expresses how happy he is to have a friend like you. In the hands of an aging cynic, it feels like it's designed for juvenile loners who'll end up buying those pillows in the shape of women's bosoms to sleep on later in life.
Looking beyond my oh-so-clever adult cynicism for a minute, though - because I can only do the "look at me, I'm poking fun at a game designed for toddlers! Guffaw!" act for so long before I feel like feeding my own face into a blender - Crayola Treasure Adventures is actually quite a confusing piece of software. I understand that it's not aimed at me, but I'm struggling to work out who it is aimed at.
The thing is, it's incredibly simple. There are a mere handful of puzzles - some jigsaws, all of them very easy indeed, some join-the-dots puzzles (which all boil down to drawing a circle, in essence) and some colouring-in puzzles, which just ask you to scrub bits of the screen. In terms of actual game, that's it - and I can't escape the feeling that any child who can read (required to follow the dialogue and instructions) and count (required for joining the dots) is probably going to feel quite insulted by the whole thing.
Rather better is the colouring book section, which gives your nipper a huge selection of Crayola colours to choose from, and lets them go wild on the DS screen, colouring in a library of images. Cunningly, the DS is actually better than a normal colouring book, in a sense - it detects which area you started colouring in, and doesn't let you go over the borders of that area until you lift the stylus. On the downside, of course, there's no way to print out or share your images, which makes us suspect that most proud parents would be better off investing in some real crayons for their budding Picassos.
Perhaps there's a market here for parents of very small children, who want to play the game with them - treating it, in essence, as an interactive storybook and colouring book. If so, then it probably hits that mark quite nicely - but the absolutely tiny amount of adventure content, and the fact that the puzzles simply won't be any challenge to a child of reading age, makes it impossible to give this game a particularly good score. We doubt it was on many wish-lists anyway - but for parents in the audience, honestly, we'd suggest easily washable walls and a nice pack of real Crayolas any day.