Bluey: The Videogame Review – IGN

The very same weekend we received Bluey: The Videogame, Australia’s ABC broadcasted a countdown of the top 100 Bluey episodes, as voted by the public. Tuning in for the final 20-or-so, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with any of the very best ones I’d managed to miss over the years ahead of this review. One of those was Onesies, and I was floored when the theme was revealed. Seriously, the ability of this children’s show to tackle a concept as complex as infertility for an audience of any age, and with such an expert balance of levity and empathy, is nothing short of remarkable. There is so much to this show beneath the surface. I do wish I could say the same about Bluey: The Videogame – that it, too, is quite remarkable in its own way. Unfortunately, it is not. It may look like a spot-on recreation of Bluey’s gorgeous and distinct 2D animation, but beneath the surface there isn’t much more than an hour or so of mild multiplayer fun and moderate frustration.

IGN’s Twenty Questions – Guess the game!

As I’ve touched on, Bluey the show is a rare breed; colourful and cute enough to entertain its core audience of preschoolers, witty enough to hook older kids and deliver valuable lime lessons without ever patronising either audience, and regularly profound enough to make their parents cry. On a more superficial level, though, it’s rare because it’s also beautifully animated in 2D. While I admit I probably don’t quite have my finger on the pulse of pre-schooler TV these days, if it’s still anything like it was a few years back this is in stark contrast to most shows for four-year-olds – which tend to look like time capsules of PS1 game cutscenes exhumed from 1997.

Bluey: The Videogame does an admittedly terrific job of emulating the bright and chunky look of the show.

Bluey: The Videogame does an admittedly terrific job of emulating the bright and chunky look of the show, and it effectively converts the four available backdrops into 2.5D environments that bring depth to places like the Heeler home without jarring with the show’s usual look (which is typically staged on a single plane). The characters and animations are equally accurate, and they’re more or less indistinguishable from the show itself. It helps a lot that the cast is also aboard to provide the voices.

For Real Life

Unfortunately, that’s largely where the good stuff stops. Perhaps the biggest problem of all is the absurdly short length for what isn’t some two-dollar tablet game you download on a whim to keep a toddler busy while you’re waiting for your spring rolls. At £35 in the UK, $60 Australian, and $40 US, it is brazenly expensive for a game that can be completed in under an hour, and picked clean of collectables in less than two. We try to keep price out of the conversation in a review because games don’t get better when they go on sale, but exceptions must be made in cases like this where it’s just a ripoff.

There are just four maps – the Heeler house and backyard, the playground, the creek, and the beach – and a short story arc split into four 10- to 15-minute episodes. Developer Artax Games has divided the Heeler backyard and house in the menu to make it appear there are five maps, but that’s not the case; obviously, the house and backyard are connected. It is a tiny amount amount of extremely modestly sized maps. No shops, no succulent Chinese restaurants, no school, no Hammerbarn – it’s the bare minimum all the way.

It just doesn’t actually feel finished.

The setup is cute enough; it’s the school holidays and Bluey and Bingo are spending it on the hunt for a forgotten treasure buried by Bandit and his brothers when they were kids. As such, there are appearances by Uncle Stripe and Muffin, Uncle Rad, plus Chilli’s father Grandad Mort. There’s even a low-hanging moral brushed against in the fourth and final episode, which culminates at the creek, but then the story just… ends. The beach is unlocked, but there’s no story component here – even though there feels like there should be. It just doesn’t actually feel finished.

Gotta Be Done

It doesn’t feel particularly well-finished when it comes to how it plays, either. I played through in co-op with my kids and our experience was mostly fractured, finicky, and frustrating. There were times our characters were frozen and only returning to the character screen to re-select our characters would fix it. Lining up objects to interact with and pick up is a hassle, which is doubly annoying considering the solution to every puzzle is pushing or pulling a piece of furniture. Or maybe a rock.

Platforming is imprecise and inelegant in the 2.5D spaces, and while it does seem to only need one of you to succeed, this is a pain in groups of three or four players. In bigger groups, progression is messy – it’s really just a melee of everybody spamming the interact button to gather junk and getting teleported along by the first person to successfully make a few jumps.

Each of the four episodes also introduces a separate minigame that can be started and played from a dedicated game wheel, including Keepy Uppy (keeping a balloon off the ground, which is dreadfully underwhelming in practice), the platforming-based Ground is Lava (which had a habit of trapping me in a glitched state where I couldn’t move), Magic Xylophone (which is basically freeze tag with an extraneous musical instrument), and Chattermax Chase (which is essentially Baby’s First Oddball. You kids know what Halo is, right?).

Unfortunately, these minigames are scrappy and rudimentary at best, and we really didn’t find ourselves drawn back to any of them. If anything, we gleaned the most fun out of exploring the Heeler home in free-roam and hunting through all the recognisable rooms, but even that was short lived.

It’s a bewilderingly unimaginative take on the most canny, creative, and considered kids show I’ve ever seen.

With 151 episodes of Bluey in the can, the list of places and pooches Bluey: The Videogame could’ve featured is extensive. What we have feels like barely half a game. It’s a bewilderingly unimaginative take on the most canny, creative, and considered kids show I’ve ever seen, and it’s extremely trifficult to recommend.

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