Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey game for Nintendo DS

My kids love elephants. One of their favorite stuffed toys is a stuffed elephant named Horton Chouchie (he's named after the elephant in Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who). When we watched the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Zing Zang Zoom circus performance last August, they were immediately drawn to the elephants. The wrinklier and baggier the elephant was, the more they loved it! Honestly, I think they'd love to have an elephant as a pet. Fortunately for my back yard, we have Horton Chouchie the stuffed elephant, and now each of my kids has a virtual elephant to care for and have fun with -- we recently received a copy of the just released Nintendo DS game, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Circus Friends Asian Elephants, to try. Here' what we thought of it:

The Basics
Here's what the makers have to say about this game:
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Circus Friends Asian Elephantsfor Nintendo DS, gives pachyderm enthusiasts the ability to care for their very own Asian elephant. Gamers must ensure their playful pal eats well, stays clean and healthy, and gets daily exercise. Once the proper training program has been implemented, their circus friend can star and show off in The Greatest Show on Earth™! This game was developed by 2K’s Cat Daddy Games studio, the developers of the multi-million seller Carnival Games, and is rated E for everyone by the ESRB. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Circus Friends Asian Elephants for Nintendo DS is available for $29.99 at major retailers across North America .

For more information, go to www.Ringlingbrosgame.com.

The Bongga
When we received this game, I knew it would appeal to my kids because they like elephants and they can identify with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. But I didn't think that caring for a virtual elephant would be so engaging! They love playing the simple games to get points that they can use to buy clothes and home decorations for their elephants. They even like doing gross stuff like picking dirt off the elephant's teeth and trimming its toenails and shoveling out the dirty straw from the elephant's bed. Certainly no one can accuse Natalie, 3Po or Jammy of treating their circus elephants badly!

As a parent with young children, I like the fact that the game is really simple. I like that you can save your game and come back to it later, so I can enforce gaming time limits without feeling guilty that they're losing everything they worked so hard to earn. I like that it appeals to both girls and boys (okay, mostly girls, but could boys like my sons really like it!). And I really love how many of the instructions are spoken in addition to appearing on the screen; that way, 3Po and Jammy don't need someone to help them read the instructions. They can figure out what to do on their own, which increases their independence and confidence.

The Blah
With the circus theme and cartoonish atmosphere, this game is obviously meant to appeal to the younger set, so I wish all the instructions were spoken as well as written.

The Bottom Line
It has just the right mix of challenge and simplicity to suit the youngest Nintendo DS gamers. I'd highly recommend this as a first-DS-game present!

I received a sample in order to review this product, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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