Noddy: A Day in Toyland
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-09-17 GBA Action/Platform E (Everyone) The Game Factory / Digital Eclipse

Note: This review was based on the import version of the game. The North-American release is expected in October.

Noddy is one of my earliest childhood memories. This childlike doll was created in 1949 by Enid Blyton and is one of the most popular British pop culture icons. I grew up reading these best-seller books, my earliest memories dating from when I was around four. Getting to play this game was like a pleasant blast from the past from the days when I used to sneak to a neighbor's house and take over the book collection that had been once her sons'.

Noddy: A Day in Toyland is a simple 2D platformer designed to appeal to the youngest of gamers, so be aware that this review keeps that particular fact in mind. Anyone else older than 10 will probably not find this game appealing at all.

Noddy's adventure takes place throughout the course of 12 levels, telling us about a regular day in Noddy's life, where he goes about helping his friends in various ways. These levels are separated into side-scrolling platform action and racing, and you can play them in either Easy or Normal difficulties.

In the platform levels, there is usually a quest for Noddy to complete which involves finding another character or a set of items. As you walk and jump around collecting coins, you're bound to find what you're looking for. It all resides in exploration of the level. Sometimes, the platforms aren't all that obvious since they blend in with the backgrounds so well. They can be disguised as the ledge of a window, a crate, a roof or a bench.

Aside from coins, you will also find muffins or coin purses and jingly bells. The muffins and purses are used to keep roamers still, so you don't lose "energy" when you touch them. There is no actual violence in the game and the most Noddy will do is toss a muffin at someone, and you will see that character stop to eat and enjoy it.

Noddy's energy is represented by a bar with five jingly bells, which you also can find laying around the different stages. Collecting 50 coins will also fully replenish the jingly bell meter.

On the racing levels, Noddy hops on his toy car and drives on a side-scrolling screen filled with obstacles. There are rocks, logs and farm animals to dodge, with coins and jingly bells to collect. You basically move the car up and down as Noddy moves forward, honk at the animals so they get out of the way and try to reach the end of the stage in one piece.

The different levels are connected by a simple storyline presented through vibrant and detailed still images with text dialog. These little bits of story are written as if they were a children's book. This makes sure parents have something to do in between their children's plays, as they can read the story while the images show on screen. These images will then be stored in the Photo Album to be enjoyed later.

While graphically the game is nicely presented (colorful is the best word to describe it) with its seemingly 3D characters on 2D backgrounds, the sound disappoints since the music gets a little annoying but the sound effects are appropriate. I particularly liked the chickens and cows getting out of the car's way, they sound hilarious.

The animations are smooth and well done, but Noddy should have at least been given the option to run. He can only walk everywhere, which makes him pretty slow, even for children's standards.

Overall, and for a short title aimed at ages 3 to 7, Noddy: A Day in Toyland is a light-hearted game that emphasizes helping others. I would recommend it as a great way to introduce 2D platformers to the younger ones in the family who have never played videogames.

Special thanks to Damien Sarrazin and The Game Factory for providing a copy of this title.