Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, part of the Humongous game series, which is owned by Atari, is an interactive story and puzzle game developed for children ages four and up. The goal of the game is to reunite six baby animals (a giraffe, hippo, snake, seal, lion, and elephant) with their parents so that the zookeeper may open up the Cartown Zoo. Each page has interactive features that include music, cartoons, mini-games and hidden tools that will assist your child in finding and rescuing each animal. There is also an opportunity for your child to learn about each animal as he or she plays, as well as animal habitats, such as Grasslands, the Artic, and the Jungle.
When I first took a look at the Putt-Putt app, I thought that the style and concept of the game would be too young for my seven-year-old son. I asked him to give it a try, however, to see if maybe the game had some hidden treasures not immediately obvious. After making it through the beginning song and game set-up, my son realized that there is more to this app than meets the eye. It is necessary to navigate Putt-Putt the car through various winding roads and different zoo exhibits in order to locate the baby animals. In addition to needing a basic sense of direction, the game also challenges players to collect tools along the way to help them remove obstacles and rescue the animals. Sometimes, a hidden object is missed the first time around, and your child must use problem-solving skills to check areas again and must brainstorm what tools might help out in each situation. This involves memory skills, strategy, and the ability to reverse directions to get back to the desired areas.
Once my son realized that this game in many ways resembles some of the puzzle and escape games that his older sister plays, he became very engaged in rescuing the animals and solving the puzzles. He played it for about an hour before bedtime, but was not able to successfully rescue the last of the six animals. He had to be convinced to wait until the next day to continue playing (in fact, I almost had to rip it out of his hands!). With fresh eyes the next morning, he was able to rescue the last of the baby animals and complete the game.
It is very clear to me that this app has become one of his all-time favorites. Although both he and I initially thought this game was geared toward younger children, we now agree that kids under five will probably require help from their parents in order to find the all of necessary tools and know what to do with them.
My son is a true animal lover and so it is no surprise that he said that the best part of the game is rescuing baby animals. He loved collecting tools to help him along the way and felt a great sense of accomplishment when he completed all of the game’s tasks. I think he even got a kick out of the cartoon-style animals and musical numbers. His sister, age ten, has now caught on to the charm of Putt-Putt, and she, too, has started playing it. When asked if he had anything else to add to this review, my son said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’m glad we didn’t, because we truly did find a hidden treasure. Challenging, educational and pro-social, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is a winner!