Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures Review (Nintendo DS)

Game Review: Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures
Release: September 13, 2011
Genre: Mini-Game Collection/Platformer
Developer: Majesco
Available Platforms: Nintendo DS
Players: 1
MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Website: Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures 

The Cooking Mama series from Majesco has sold millions of units and was one of the first games for the Nintendo DS to utilize the touch screen’s full capabilities. With Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures, Mama is joined by Papa to take on the great outdoors in their newest Nintendo DS title. Just like Babysitting Mama and Gardening Mama before it, Camping Mama takes the traditional mini-game format of the original Cooking Mama games and takes it in a new direction. Along with the mini collection usually found in the other games, Camping Mama also incorporates an isometric campaign mode that offers an added challenge to overcome.

As soon as you boot up the game you’re bombarded by the irreverent tone that comes with each of the games within the Mama series. The main part of the game is the Explore section which has some light RPG features mixed with some platforming elements. In this section you’ll have access to a base camp as well as the choice of several unlockable areas across the island. Each area has its own theme that usually flavors the types of mini-games you play as well as what types of animals you will encounter while searching chests and completing tasks. The items you gather through exploration and mini-game completion can be displayed at your base camp but this only serves a cosmetic purpose.

The mini-games themselves are themed around crafting, cooking, nature, and cute time-wasters like a foot race with a bear. There is a good amount of repetition within the mini-games but they’re all fairly quick to complete and are challenging enough to give you a reason to keep on going. My favorite games were the multi-part ones like the building of a flower circlet which had you picking the flowers, cutting the branches, and weaving them all together. The Challenge mode takes out the overworld part of the game and gives you access to replaying any of the mini-games you’ve already participated in.

Without a doubt, Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures duplicates the fun, challenging, and inventive mini-games found in the original Cooking Mama and outfits it them all with a new skin. This new skin is served best when it’s not relying on simple games but actually has you replicating real camping activities. While the other mini games are still fun, the game really excels when you are tackling games like making s’mores, chopping wood, or cooking kebob’s. Just like with the Cooking Mama games, mirroring real life situations with inventive stylus movements is where the game really comes alive.

While some of the isometric areas will have you moving across logs frogger-style or trying to glide in the right direction  over ice, most of the areas are fairly simple and don’t offer much variety. Most of your time will be spent doing the same 3 things: avoiding animals, swiping grass, and collecting items. As I said earlier, the games also become quite repetitive and are pretty much clones of each other with slight differences that go with the theme of whatever area you’re in. One last thing that I could not get out of my head was the “Engrish” that was spoken by both Mama and Papa. I understand that the mispronunciation is a staple of the series but in some ways I felt it teeters on racist in how comically thick the accents are.

I can’t lie, time seem to pass by quickly while playing the game and I breezed through all the levels a lot quicker than I have with any other Cooking Mama game. Where many of the other Mama games seemed focus on asking for precise movements from the player, this game was quite generous and allowed for a laid back played through that wasn’t too frustrating. If it wasn’t for some the more cheesy mini-games and the repetitiveness of the games, I’d say I had a lot of fun with the game. I can wholeheartedly suggest this for any parent looking to get their child a fun game that is challenging and fun.

+Challenge mode offers replay-ability
+Some really fun mini-games
-Boring over-world that adds little to the overall game
-repetitive usage of the same 5 or so types of games

Final Score: 7 Out Of 10

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