Review by bodo_parkour
Thomas the tank engine has run out of steam...
You've all probably heard of Thomas the Tank Engine but just in case you haven't, Thomas is a tank engine who is one of the engines working on the fictional Island of Sodor railway. Along with his friends, he gets up to mischief and is part of many thrilling adventures. In 'Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends' for the SNES, Thomas takes part in a series of mini-games and puzzles.
There are different levels of game difficulty to choose from, ranging from extremely easy to not so easy. The easiest difficulty is clearly designed for very young children to play and is rather simple. On harder difficulty, the mini-games are larger and more complex, but still simple enough for pre-teens to play and enjoy.
If you are a gamer who enjoys challenges, then this is definitely not for you, as the game can quite easily be completed on every difficulty level in under an hour. For the hardcore Thomas fan however, it should prove to be enjoyable, especially one of the mini-games where you watch a storybook version of one of Thomas' adventures and have to decide how the story plays out. This game features stills captured straight from the television series and this is a definite plus for the game.
Unfortunately, not all of the games are this fun. There is one where you have to adjust the signals and the points to allow Thomas to arrive at the station. This is incredibly frustrating as the controls are quite unresponsive. The directional pad in this game doesn't seem to take the cursor to where you want it to go, and it'll either move straight past the place you want to go, or shoot off in the complete opposite direction. Luckily, the event is not timed, so you can take as long as it takes you to sort out the freakish control mechanism.
Mini-games are accessed from a central game screen which takes the form of a circular track with a miniature Thomas at one side. If you use the directional pad, Thomas will puff round the board, stopping at the stations (which are mini-games) you want him too. As Thomas moves round the track, his trademark steam whistle and theme song is played and is surprisingly accurate to the original television theme. It definitely captures the magic of the moment, and the only problem is that the visuals don't compliment the sound.
Animations are blocky and it's sometimes difficult to spot where the cursor actually is on the screen. Backgrounds are a little dull, which I guess is supposed to highlight the brighter reds, blues, and greens of the engines themselves.
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is a young child's game, and it doesn't try to be anything more than that, so don't expect groundbreaking game play. But, for what it's trying to do, it accomplishes it's task to almost the highest standard, and if a little more time was put into the realising of Thomas' surroundings, then this title would be given a higher score.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
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