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Written by  :  Nowhere Girl (5024)
Written on  :  Oct 01, 2013
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars

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A balanced view on balanced nutrition

The Good

Pajama Sam games are designed with slightly older players in mind, compared to Putt-Putt and also Freddi Fish games, and so it has a fair level of randomization. The delegates can be found in some different places, are in some kind of trouble and different tasks are required to free them, which means four major puzzles (each one is a series of events leading to finding one of the delegates) and each of the puzzles can have two solutions - which means there are 16 plot variants altogether. However, what I really appreciate is that you can choose which variants you want to play. I discovered it after a few times - but yes, unlike in Putt-Putt and Freddi Fish games, it's possible. There's a "setup" option in the game menu and you can choose the solution you want for each puzzle.
As usual, the game has very nice graphics. After the technical World Wide Weather, we get back closer to nature - however, not so ordinary. The land Sam travels to is meant to represent the human body and so we travel through a big heart, we go to the Foothills or even some dark bowels... This idea is used rather superficially, for example we don't really get information of how do nutrients travel inside the body once they are eaten, but maybe it would be hard to squeeze that much educational information into the game at once. Or maybe the consensus is that information on carbohydrates, proteins, fats, microelements etc. is rather something to be taught to older children. Anyway, apart from resembling some parts of the human body, the area also looks gorgeous. The ground is mostly purple, the snow (found in some areas) intensely blue, and the sky is glowing in golden and violet hues. Very sweet, but also amazing.
Despite its 16 solutions, the game is easier than "Pajama Sam 1", where the difficulty level was sometimes overdone - the puzzles in that game are logical, but details can be difficult, especially finding the right gear for a machine in the mines where none looked obviously like the right one and so finding it was too much about trial and error. Another thing that was exaggerated in "Pajama Sam 1" was the sock hunt - some were plainly visible, but some very had to notice and so I admit I never found all of them. In "You Are What You Eat..." finding the box tops requires attention to details, but they don't blend with the surroundings as much as for example a red sock can do when found in the mines. I would say the difficulty level of this part is slightly higher than the jigsaw puzzle in "Pajama Sam 2", but definitely lower than the socks in "Pajama Sam 1".
I admit I was at first somewhat apprehensive about the game and its possible level of pro-healthy-food propaganda. Myself I'm a vegetarian, but also an avid sweets-lover, I think eating doesn't have to be reduced to satisfying hunger, I believe that being just slightly overweight is quite harmless (while I admit that myself I'm more than slightly overweight, not fit and psychologically unable to give up sweets). Therefore I tend to react with some level of aggression when the concern about growing prevalence of obesity in children almost leads to saying that good parents are only those who ban their children from eating any sweets and teach them that All Sugar Is Evil. But no, this game is far from that level of radicalism. It doesn't say at all that sweets are bad, it only shows that eating way too much is a bad idea. It's not in favour of any eliminative diet, but a balanced diet and I think it's a sensible solution.

The Bad

One of the puzzles is really difficult and it's not about thinking, but about timing. In some versions of the gameplay Granny Smythe (the apple) is stuck in a caramel pit, surrounded by almonds. Sam needs to jump on these almonds to get to her. Actually once you get on the first one, timing it right to jump on the next one is easier, but in case of the first one you'll most likely start with falling into the caramel. It's too random, there is no obvious moment to start and so it's too much about trial and error.
Getting the game to run properly isn't so easy. In case of all Pajama Sam games randomization doesn't work right when the game is played through Scumm VM + D-Fend Reloaded. Small random elements always work right, for example the box tops are found in different places, but there is no path-splitting - each gameplay is the same. This problem is solved by running the game through Scumm VM alone, but still it's curious because I don't have such problems in other Humongous Entertainment games. However, as I wrote - it's possible to choose the gameplay variant, but I discovered it after I had already solved the mentioned problem.

The Bottom Line

Pajama Sam games are nice adventure games for children with unobtrusive educational content. Each game has a theme, but it doen't dominate it - you don't learn that much about weather in "Thunder and Lightning...", about nutrition in "You Are What You Eat...". However, every game also has several tasks that are supposed to teach the player something - they train aspects such as logical thinking, memory, attention. While an adult player doesn't get as much from the game - an adult person already knows these things - it's a nice relaxing adventure also for adult players.