Written by  :  Nowhere Girl (3260)
Written on  :  Mar 26, 2013
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars
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To call it "difficult" would be too much... let's say it's more challenging

The Good

As I wrote in the summary, it's the most "difficult" of Putt-Putt games I have played. Maybe it can be a disadvantage for the youngest players, those in the lower range of the intended age group - however, older children and adult children may find this game really fun. Of course it remains childish and easy, but not as infantile and trivial as some other children's games.
The game has vibrant graphics in the typical Putt-Putt style - lush colors and, as usual, lots of little details. Since "Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo" looking for these hidden details has been easier - arrow color shows if the element is interactive. One of my favorites: check out one of the bushes close to the game's beginning. Bigger and bigger animals walk out from behind the relatively small bush: a duck, a bear, a horse, an elephant, and finally the most absurd - a dinosaur.
Other inhabitants of Cartown have a personality of their own which can be seen even in those short conversations. The ones I liked best were Mr. Fenderbender with his funny slips of tongue, Rover, who started selling cold drinks at Cartown after returning from the moon (it was really nice to see him again)... and Betsy Bulldozer due to her unconventional gender role.
I would say the game rather has less educational value than some other Putt-Putt games (especially the above mentioned "Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo" with lots of facts about animals or "Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon"). However, I wouldn't call it a banal game. Maybe we, adult children, aren't as well suited to judging educational games because we already know all those things such as reading or counting... Anyway, "Putt-Putt Enters the Race" does its educational job in areas such as object and shape recognition (gathering fruits and vegetables for Mr. Baldini at the farm or sorting trash into tight slots) or connecting numbers to their names (selecting Putt-Putt's official racing number for his flag).
The game world is now quite large and some areas don't open up immediately - for example you need to find a hook to let a crane move pipes blocking a road - only then you are able to go to Cartown's third square. It features several minigames or subquests, such as (already mentioned) trash sorting, bringing vegetables from the farm, digging up items buried in the backyard by a slightly hyperactive poodle, playing pinball at the toy store (much better than the very primitive-looking "pinball" in the first Putt-Putt game) and, of course, the final race. Unlike in real racing, you can keep retrying until you are satisfied with your performance... The race is actually not too intuitive - I don't see a way to accelerate, so it seems the only method that guarantees a good result is avoiding obstacles that slow you down. If you do it well, winning the race should be definitely within reach - anyway, it's a children's game, so it just can't be too difficult.

The Bad

In Putt-Putt games you typically collect some objects - for example you need coins for tasks required to complete the game and you can also use them for some optional actions such as going to the carwash. In this game you can collect two kinds of objects: coins and empty bottles left all over Cartown - you get a coin for every three bottles put into the recycling machine. Any number of coins higher than five is seen as just five and any number of bottles higher than three is visible as three. What I regret is too little control over how much you have - you can't check it because if you click the objects, Putt-Putt will say what they are, but he doesn't say how much he has (which he does in some other games). You will only see it when the number of coins or bottles carried drops below the mentioned numbers.
By the way, the recycling machine is also rather boring. Maybe it's better in a game for the youngest players, but still I find it a waste of time when Putt-Putt repeats every time "I need to put in two more bottles / one more bottle before I can recycle them". Another task gets more difficult with time - when you are collecting produce for Mr. Baldini for the second time and you click the box, Putt-Putt won't say which fruits or vegetables you need - he will only say he needs some "which look like this". Something similar could have been done with the recycling machine - it would be slightly harder and, first of all, less boring if Putt-Putt stopped saying how many bottles he needs yet after having used the machine for the first time.
A thing to look out for is going automatically to the race after having gathered everything. If Putt-Putt also wants to make himself pretty before the race (get a paint job and/or go to the carwash), you have to leave some task(s) uncompleted. My advice is to fill the gas can at the very end (the station is next to the carwash anyway), however if someone doesn't know it or think about it before, an unpleasant surprise is possible.

The Bottom Line

The game may indeed be slightly too hard for the youngest children - I think most kids under the age of about 7 won't be able to complete the game by themselves. However, children's games aren't only for them... even playing adventure or platform games not specifically intended just for children does in my opinion require some level of appreciating "your inner child", so I would hypothesize that game players on average cherish the "childish" part of their personality more than people who don't like games. These are traits I describe as "being an adult child" and Putt-Putt games can also be interesting for this group of players.