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Berenstain Bears Camping Adventure

Genre: Children Developer: Realtime Associates Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1994

Based loosely on the series of books by Stan and Jan Berenstain you take on the roles of Brother or Sister Bear who are, as the title of the game insinuates, on a camping adventure. The two bears must run, jump, and roll their way through caves, lakes, and a deadly nature walk in order to….actually I was unable to ascertain any clear goal in this game, other than having adventures….which seems to be the main contention.

I’ll say first that Camping Adventure is in essence every other platformer ever made, you run around and collect things while jumping on enemies and inevitably coming to some sort of goal. There are five adventures our intrepid bears must venture on with one being locked at the start of the game and only accessible through completing each of the other adventures. This non linear structure helps to alleviate the sense of same old that Camping Adventure sort of oozes. Within each adventure, which are essentially all identical bar the location you must amass copious amounts of diamonds or honey combs or butterflies or fish or flashlights in order to maximize your score at the end of each level. Occasionally you may stumble across a floating halo of sorts which when collected transports you to some sort of wacky mini game such as jumping around and collecting things, jumping on things and collecting things, etc.

By now you must be noticing an emerging pattern, one of rampant monotonous collecting perhaps? Strangely enough it is not as boring as it sounds, levels are designed cleverly with some interesting things like spouting water you must use to reach higher levels and teleporting between trees to reach a higher branch to ascend to an exit. Additionally the graphics are clean, colorful and charming complementing some nice emotive character design. Your character can pick up rocks and nets and other items to aid them in their adventures in an effort to add a bit of originality to the game design however most of the time these items are simply superfluous and serve no practical purpose such as the rock which your character throws in a wide arc at an angle which makes it impossible to hit anything other than enemies directly above you.

That brings me to enemies, all enemies in the game are animals such as rats, owls, cougars and skunks and they all want to kill you violently. Why in gods name would you take your family to a forest full of homicidal animals hungry for the blood of innocent young bears?. Something else that didn’t make sense was the fact that Camping Adventure seems to be set in a forest similar to Yellowstone, yet there are…… wait for it….. crocodiles in some patches of water. Strange indeed considering you don’t even get crocodiles in North America. But hey, kids like crocodiles, so it would be smart to appeal to the demographic right?

The music in Camping Adventure is terrible, most of the tracks are simply hideous and uncomplicated generic platformer tunes which are so abrasive at times I needed to turn down my volume, sound effects however are nicely done with some convincing splashing and environmental sounds.

Berenstain Bears Camping Adventure is well and truly aimed at children there is no doubt, it is a simple, uncomplicated platformer with charming character design, interesting level design and surprisingly non linear gameplay. However it also sports one of the worst soundtracks I have ever heard, infinitely monotonous gameplay, and a superfluous set of items which no doubt were simply tacked on to add a small ounce of originality to the project. After you have finished the game with each character you can play co-op with a friend, but after you’re done it once with both of them you won’t want to go back. Considering that this is aimed at children, I can see them becoming bored very quickly. If Camping Adventure wasn’t simply yet another generic platformer there could have been potential using the same idea to create a nice, solid and original title.

SCORE: 5 out of 10

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