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The Sam Power games (Fireman, Policeman and Handyman) are a series of games aimed at younger boy players. This complements the Imagine games (like Imagine: Champion Rider DS) aimed at young girls. The games combine simple driving levels with a variety of DS specific interactions to give younger gamers a chance to save the day for a change.
Mini games come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relatively short time required to complete a level or two.
The Sam Power games (Tim Power in the States) are unique because they are tailored for a young audience. Similar games exist, but often have complex controls or requirements to read a lot of text. These games provide a repeating cycle of elements that most children from the age of three up should be able to at least have a go at.
Also unusual is the fact that these experiences are designed for young lads rather than girls. After a slew of make up/dress up/ design games, it's nice to see something different - although the bi-polar nature of the marketing may give some parents pause.
Each level starts with a driving section to get the hero of choice to their destination. The player only needs to change lanes and collect speed and siren tokens - steering is taken care of for them. The siren can then be used to temporarily clear the road of the meddlesome traffic.
Once at the destination the player is tasked with three different activities relating to their profession. These involve, tapping, dragging and blowing at the DS. Performance here determines how many stars are awarded and the upgrades available to their vehicle. This cycle repeats itself - much like popular children's television - with a new destination and set of tasks.
Young players will be drawn to the Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder appearance of the games. They will then enjoy the appropriate difficulty of each game section. Add to this the way the game takes a simple enjoyable process and iterates around it as the player progresses and you have an intelligently designed game.
Each level only takes around five minutes. Come tea time, there should be no excuse to quickly finish up and come running. When players have a little longer one level runs seamlessly into the next making it very easy to play for an hour or so.
Very young players will find the games easy to pick up and play with little instruction from an adult. There is minimal reading and each level starts automatically. The assisted driving is a great innovation for this age group.
Experts, intermediates and even older children will have fun playing the game a few times, but may find the repetition a little off putting for longer periods. This is by the nature of the game's successful design.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: