My Little Baby 3D: review

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As with my review of Beyond: Two Souls, I’m breaking from the traditional CG review structure for this piece. It seems fair to say that 33 year old misanthropists aren’t really the target market for My Little Baby 3D, so I’ve enlisted the help of two guest reviewers to help me judge how well it does what it sets out to do – my eldest daughters Hope (8) and Isla (4).

It sets out to replicate childcare realistically to an extent, which even means that when you start a new save file (of which you can have three at a time – perfect if you’re sharing the game between kids; or up to three of them, anyway) the sex of the child is decided randomly. As Hope pointed out, it would be better if you could choose; so if you don’t get the one you want, you have no choice but to go back to the title screen and start again.

It’s not the prettiest game on the 3DS, but nor is it the ugliest. It looks ‘okay’ and that’s fine – children rarely care about graphics, and it certainly wasn’t a cause of concern for either of the Critical Gamer interns (unpaid of course, in keeping with the rest of the industry). The baby kicks about and gurgles in a pleasing manner, and thankfully the quest for realism has not extended to unprovoked and unstoppable 45 minute screaming fits. There is a lot to do to look after your baby though, and play sessions usually consist of a constant stream of demands. As soon as you’ve satisfied one need, you can be sure another is no more than a minute away; which is nothing if not realistic.

What’s that teddy made of, concrete?

A highlight for both children was nappy changing (at least in part with the glee provoked by the on-screen declaration of “Wow, it stinks!”). As with all interactions, the baby and its surroundings are displayed on the top screen, while the silhouettes of the baby and/or any relevant items are displayed on the touchscreen for you to use. Activities involve several steps so, for example, nappy changing means removing the nappy by tapping the adhesive strips either side, which magically teleports it from the child and into a neatly wrapped package of stink. You clean and then powder the baby by swiping across the touchscreen, before putting a clean one on by again tapping the strips. And, of course, you must drag the dirty nappy across to the bin. No, it doesn’t sound particularly thrilling to you or me, but the kids loved it.

It must be said that in order to get the most out of the game, the child playing needs to have a good reading age, or a patient mum or dad willing to be on hand to help during play. The game uses a virtual ‘nanny’ which tells the player what the baby needs and how to play the minigames via on-screen text. As a result Hope could happily sit and play by herself, whereas Isla would need somebody to explain to her what the game was saying, and what she should do next. The baby has stats you see, showing how hungry, tired, happy etc he/she is (though the nanny will always inform you of what’s needed next). If only real babies had the same…

In a way, this game can teach young children what looking after a baby actually involves. Not only do the minigames involve activities such as nappy changing, bathing and simply playing with the child, preparing a bottle isn’t as simple as handing a ready-made drink over – the bottle itself must first be cleaned and sterilised before use. The game loses realism points, however, for showing the milk being used as coming straight out of a carton. You do at least have the option of buying organic milk (?).

Motion controls have been implemented too. The aforementioned bottle feeding involves first dragging the bottle over to the baby’s mouth, and then slowly tipping the 3DS to the side as they drink, in a similar manner to real feeding as the bottle slowly empties. Also, when it’s bedtime, you’re asked to slowly rock the 3DS from side to side to get the baby to sleep. Hope complained that it didn’t seem possible to get the baby to sleep “properly” in this way though; which, again, can be interpreted as realism…

Actually, yes, babies sometimes DO have that expression when you put them in the bath.

In a nice touch AR is incorporated, the conditions for which are to give the baby something to play with, then zoom in to make the AR icon appear. Point the outer camera at a 3DS AR card to make the baby appear in the real world – but that’s it. You can’t actually interact with the baby in this way. As a result, the feature was an interesting diversion for the kids which made them smile, but also one they almost instantly lost interest in.

You can ‘go to town’ to buy food, clothes, toys and more for your baby – and if you need extra instant cash you can trade Play Coins, which is a smart idea. Town, however, is essentially just a bunch of shopping menus in which your baby doesn’t even appear. We all agreed that it would’ve been much better if town offered further activities for your baby. Also, while you can teach the baby to talk (via the microphone), crawl, balance and walk, these ‘unlock’ at certain ages – which are not given or explained. You can choose to skip the current day at any time, but there’s no indication of how far you are from the next age goalpost.

My Little Baby 3D therefore isn’t the lazy shovelware you might expect, but nor does it fulfil its potential. If your child likes the idea of the game at all then they’ll get a lot of fun out of it – but bear in mind that the younger the child, the more you’ll be joining in!

critical score 7

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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