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Putt-Putt and Fatty Bear's Activity Pack (Windows 3.x)

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Written by  :  Mr. Eight-Three-One (1507)
Written on  :  May 15, 2014
Platform  :  Windows 3.x
Rating  :  4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars

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Summary

A fun little distraction from time to time

The Good

Previous review: Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon

Info and discussion: http://www.mobygames.com/forums/dga,2/dgb,5/dgm,197698/

Now onto the often glossed over spinoff from the tail-end of the DOS era. I can't exactly talk about it without first bringing up the fact that this game is technically only a third of original content. It is a combination of two earlier games, Putt-Putt's Fun Pack and Fatty Bear's Fun Pack. The former was six activities while the latter was five. Those eleven were combined for this game plus four new activities for a 15-game package in the only crossover Humongous ever did, Putt-Putt & Fatty Bear's Activity Pack. I felt it was better to just kill three birds with one stone with this game as opposed to three separate reviews.

Most of the activities included in this game are either straight-up games or just "have fun" sorts of things. They typically come in four difficulties: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Hardest. I figure the best way to go about it is to cover them one at a time.

Checkers: You play against Putt-Putt in a round of checkers. The pieces do get some fun little animations for moving across the board, but there really isn't much else to say here. I've never been that good at checkers myself, so I've often gotten my butt kicked on Hardest. It's fun and works alright.

Tic-Tac-Toe: You play against Putt-Putt in... What else? Nothing much to say here. You'll be entertained for a few seconds, but will probably never come back to it after two or three games.

Remember: It's memory. Harder difficulties increase the amount of cards. Not much more to add. Again, it's fun once, but nothing worth coming back to.

Puzzle Blocks: A recycled minigame from Putt-Putt Joins the Parade's toy store. I have no idea why we initially did this for a six-game compilation and couldn't go without recycling anything. Basically, it's a 3x3 set of squares that you can click on to play mix-and-match. If you want to go crazy, you can also click a shuffle button. It'll entertain you for a few seconds and you'll probably never look at it again afterwards.

Pinball: It's the pachinko creator from Putt-Putt Joins the Parade with a different background and... That's it. Even the sounds are all the same. Whoop-de-freaking-doo. I already covered this in that review, so I don't even want to bother repeating myself.

Cheese King: Basically, it's Hangman. On Easy, you simply fill in the first letter of a word. On Medium, only some letters are missing. On Hard and Hardest, all letters are missing. The only problem here is that you always get a picture no matter what difficulty you play on. Why couldn't they have made it picture-less on Hardest? You get six chances to guess a word. It works for young kids, but when you're older there is no appeal.

Those are all the games that were initially included in Putt-Putt's Fun Pack. Needless to say, it's not exactly a riveting collection and one I can easily claim is not worth picking up. How does Fatty Bear's Fun Pack fare though?

Reversi: You play against Fatty Bear in... Can you believe it... Reversi. Oh come on, you know I had to make that joke. Anyhow, I do love the cartoony look they gave this one. I have to say, Fatty Bear is rather relentless on the Hardest difficulty. It's something worth coming back to, at least.

Lines and Boxes: You play against Fatty Bear in a game of... Wait, what? Okay, allow me to explain since this game is well known but doesn't really have a name. You have a giant pegboard where you take turns drawing lines between the dots. When you make a box, you get a point and get to go again. Later on you have to be strategic and make sure to give your opponent the area that has the fewest boxes. Fatty Bear is, again, relentless on Hardest, and can't make a mistake. Well, that's actually sort of unfair to say -- when you have an area of boxes to fill in, you can give him the last two boxes in that area and he will always have to give you the larger areas. If only they forethought this... Anyhow, it's fun and despite the one flaw in the AI I can see myself enjoying this on multiple occasions.

Go Fish: Do I even need to explain this? One nifty feature is that you can change what the cards are. They can simply be numbers 1-12, standard cards, or my personal favorite, pictures. Of all adaptations of Go Fish I played in edutainment games, this was my favorite due to the pictures and the cartoony card animations.

Coloring: It's a coloring book. Yay? Actually, one thing that makes this unique is the ability to mix colors. You can use an eyedropper to pick two colors and make a new one, and you can even mix the mixed colors. It allows for some rather detailed pictures for such a simplistic tool. It's all kid friendly and works well, and the game will even save your colored pictures. If you were a kid who was into coloring, this was for you.

Tangrams: There is a shape in the middle, and you have to fill it in using smaller shapes like triangles, rectangles, and parallelograms. Easier difficulties are very basic, typically only having one to three shapes, but Hardest is more than likely to get you stumped. It all works well and is fun.

On the whole, Fatty Bear's Fun Pack is probably more worthwhile than Putt-Putt's despite being short one game. However, I still can't say it's really a must-play. How about what happens when we combine the two and make one big game, and more?

Word Hunt: It's a word search. Well, sorta. Easy has you finding letters on a 4x4 grid. Medium has 3- and 4-letter words. Hard has longer words, and Hardest has the longest. If you need a hint, you can click on any of the words/letters and it will circle the general area it is in. It's okay I guess, but I don't know if it's something that belongs on a computer.

On-Ramps and Off-Ramps: It's Chutes and Ladders. The higher the difficulty, the more complex the board is. Easy and Medium use a colored spinner for moving while Hard and Hardest use a numbered one. I guess it works alright, though Putt-Putt feeling the need to count your spaces in Hard and Hardest really slows the game down.

Guess It: A variant of Mastermind. You will have four to five slots depending on the difficulty, and have to rely on trial and error to find where the fruits are. You will be told when you have a fruit in the proper place and when there is a fruit in the puzzle but not in the correct place, as well as when a fruit is entirely absent. On easy, there are only five fruits and they cannot be reused. On Hardest, there are seven fruits and they can be reused. This one of the few I saw myself coming back to more often.

Circus Stormin': Wait, a return of Bear Stormin' from Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon? Heck YES. It's not just recycled either, a vast majority of the levels are brand new and even more unforgivable than Bear Stormin'. The higher the difficulty, the farther you start into the game. They go by 16-level increments and there are 75 levels total. This time, you pilot Putt-Putt with a propeller on top through a circus. This time, they completely went all out. Objects are now more animated and can change direction mid-flight. They can also take more complicated paths instead of just a straight line. It easily makes this game worth the price of admission. The only real downside is that there is no way to save your progress unless you use console commands on ScummVM. Even then, you can't just save the game and come back later -- because of the way SVM saves, it will not store the state of the level you are on. If you load a save from a later level when you are on the first one, completing the later level will take you to the second. Still, this activity is just awesome in every way.

These activities are quite a bit more memorable than the rest. The reason for that is because they're actually unique and somewhat deviate from their original game formulas, save for Word Hunt. The only unfortunate thing is that the new dialog sticks out like a sore thumb. Putt-Putt's newly voiced work for this version is really distorted and muffled for some odd reason, and the contrast is very noticeable. Oh well.

The Bad

(nope.avi)

The Bottom Line

So, on the whole, two lackluster fun packs combined with more actually makes for a decently fun waste of time. Five dollars really isn't a bad deal for this game either, especially considering how unbelievably difficult it is to find a secondhand physical copy these days. If anything mentioned here interests you, it might just be worth it. Plus, the difficulty levels help make this accessible to all ages, and some of them are still challenging even as an adult.

That marks the end of the DOS era. Even though Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon was a turning point as far as quality was concerned, Humongous still needed some way to get their voices heard. With a little bit of help from the big company Microsoft themselves in anticipation of the heavily publicized launch of Windows 95, it was time to change the way children played computer games forever.

(Up next: Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds)