Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer - Gogii Games
Publisher - Majesco Games
I still remember those nights when I was babysitting for a family with four rambunctious boys and all the chaos that came along with trying to manage them. I busted my butt and at the end of my 6 hour “shift” and I would get a measly 20 bucks. Babysitting Mania for the DS attempts to emulate some of the chaos that comes along with babysitting. It is a simulation-style game that has you babysit children while keeping the house in order all before Mom and Dad get home. After some extended playtime with Babysitting Mania I have to say the DS game is not all that bad. But be forewarned, it’s not that good either.
Much of the visuals in Babysitting Mania are underwhelming. It is basic looking game but does feature some decent looking art design and some of the household environments are good looking. The menu screens are slick and my daughter thought the one-toothed baby scene on the cover and in the main menus was really cute. On the flipside the in-game character animations are weak and clipping issues are rampant. Additionally it can be difficult to tell one item from the next. A zoom in feature would have been helpful for several areas including inside the baby’s bedroom. Babysitting Mania is a bright and colourful game but barely holds a candle to some of those ever-so-popular Mario games on the DS.
Similar to the graphics, the sound in Babysitting Mania was also a bit of a disappointment. It would have been great if the game featured some recognizable tunes or even just a little bit more variety. Instead you get music which loops over and over which sounds more like something out of the early 8-bit era. At one point I had to go into the options menu and turn the music off as it was driving me nuts. Another concern is the lack of character voice work. You simply don’t get to hear any banter in the game. Instead the only banter heard is me cursing the little son of gun who was messing up the house. Adding some simple voice over dialogue would have been cool and certainly would have spiced things up a bit. Other in-game sound effects all sound decent and no major concerns surface in this department.
Babysitting Mania for the DS is essentially a simulation/strategy game and is the follow-up sequel to Nanny Mania which was a hit on PC. The basic premise of the story has Stacey, a high school student who has just finished her babysitting course, trying to save up some money to buy a telescope. The best way she can save up and earn the cash is to do some babysitting jobs. I guess telescopes are expensive these days as Stacey finds herself in 20 out of control houses filled with unruly kids, never ending chores, and parties to manage. The premise is simple but perfect for gaming on the go as there is no depth to this story line. It does not require you to pay close attention to the story and there are no long drawn out cut-scenes which require your utmost attention. Babysitting Mania is a pick-up and play game in every way.
Babysitting Mania is a single player game and as a result there is no online, co-operative or multiplayer mode. A co-op mode would have been cool however I really question how such a mode would pan-out as part of the chaos and madness of babysitting is that you are all alone. As a result this review focuses on the single player aspect of Babysitting Mania for the DS.
Anyone familiar with Nanny Mania will understand how Babysitting Mania works. The game is played from the ‘top-down’ perspective and gives you an open-roof look at each of the houses Stacey is babysitting. All houses have similar lay-outs with a living room, baby room, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Anything highlighted in red or blue is a task that needs to be taken care of within the allotted time. Throwing a wrench into everything is the child you are babysitting who just happens to be running amok and tearing apart everything you cleaned up. So you need to be fast and use your skills to get the job done before Mom and Dad get home. Without giving much away the name of the game is strategy and chaining your commands is the key to your babysitting survival.
The game’s controls are very simple and the majority of the gameplay involves the use of the stylus. It works to perfection and makes for an easy yet addictive game. To control Stacey and have her clean-up a mess you simply tap on the highlighted item. It is that easy. Babysitting Mania makes no use of the buttons however the control pad is used to look around the house. The only time things get a little tricky is when you have to do some task(s) in a certain order. The help menu is useful but can only be accessed when you completely exit the game. Otherwise for your first half hour or so it is some serious trail and error as there are times Stacey is frozen as you figure out the next step.
Babysitting Mania comes with 20 different houses and 100 levels out of the box. This is not bad bang for your buck considering it is only a 20 dollar game. It is pretty much a one-dimensional game and does not offer much in terms of gameplay variety. The game gets very repetitive very early and many mature gamers will get bored very quickly. Nevertheless, there are some entertaining elements in this budget title.
Babysitting Mania for the DS is not a bad game for the 20 dollar price tag. The visuals and sound are nothing special, but the gameplay can be addictive albeit very repetitive. At the end of the day if you can pick up Babysitting Mania on the cheap and enjoy simplistic strategy/simulation type games then Majesco latest Mania game might be right up your alley.