Not every game needs to be Dungeon Hunter or Ravensword to be successful in providing entertainment to its target audience. In the case of the iPhone tie-in to the movie Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, you won’t find impressive scope, masterful vision, or intense graphical prowess, but you will find a game whose only aim is to be entertaining to the youngest of iPhone gamers, and mostly succeeds in that modest task.
Still, if you’re not a part of the demographic that flocked to theaters to make Dawn of the Dinosaurs the second most successful animated film of all time (grossing $875 million), then you probably won’t find much to enjoy about this game.
If you’ve ever seen the Ice Age movies, you may remember that the films are occasionally broken up with vignettes of a comical squirrel-type creature going to ridiculous lengths to acquire the acorn of his dreams. In the iPhone game, this is the part of the film that you play. You’re the squirrel, Scrat, trying to get the acorns, and you must solve light puzzles in order to finish each level.
Perhaps most importantly, the difficulty level is in just about the right place for this game’s target audience. It’s very easy for adults and experienced gamers, but should prove to be a suitable challenge for a child. Plus, since it’s mainly about moving blocks around to figure out how to progress, you can be sure that in at least some small way, your child is exercising their brain while they’re entertained.
The graphical sheen is rather paltry, but this game sets modest goals for itself and achieves them in small ways. The graphics are merely serviceable, but the main character is quite nicely animated and detailed enough that young kids will probably get a kick out of playing him. The game also takes the smarter path of crafting a game that follows a side character and story, rather than trying to recreate the movie, which inevitably ends in abject failure.
Among this game’s few gameplay-oriented achievements is the nearly remarkable fluidity of character movement. Like in Toki Tori, you just tap a location on the screen and the character scurries to that point as fast as he can move his little legs. He’ll climb any ladders or jump off any ledges to get there. Not only does it make for a satisfying control mechanic, but it’s also very accessible to young gamers who might not understand a complex control scheme.
There are occasional issues with the character taking the correct path during segments where he’s floating in a bubble. Sometimes he’ll move toward the destination, ignoring the enemy he’s about to hit, which can result in annoying deaths.