I'm always looking for a bargain. So when I stumbled across a computer game called Babyz in my local Ross store (or was it TJ Maxx?), it caught my eye. At only $4.99, it included a headset microphone and was a cute-looking game. For 5 bucks, what the heck!
Recommend this product?
I have two girls, ages 8 and 5 1/2. Both love playing with baby dolls. So I thought this would make a nice gift.
What is Babyz?
Babyz is a virtual "pet" baby game. You "adopt" a baby and must take care of it. There is a headset microphone, which allows you to "talk" to your baby and teach it words. Like a real baby, the virtual baby needs to be fed, held, changed, played with, and rocked to sleep. As the baby grows, it learns some words you have taught it and eventually learns to walk. It also talks to you.
The game allows you to adopt many babyz. However, you can only care for 3 of them at a time. More than that, and you must "send them to grandma's house."
There is a website, which I have not logged onto yet. This website apparently lets you download more toys and accessories, as well as offering a large selection of babyz for adoption.
***** UPDATE *****
The website, babyz.net, is somewhat operational. Apparently, the company that originally made Babyz has shut down or something. You can no longer download other babyz for adoption, or download any new objects, except for orange juice.
However, there are a few fan-based websites that still operate (many previous sites have been shut down). For downloads of food, clothing, objects for Babyz, and new Babyz themselves, see the following URLs:
Good Idea, Poor Execution
(See update, below)
I installed the game and played it a while before turning it over to my kids. Some things about the game could definitely be done better. For instance:
1. The babyz crawl off the screen and you cannot "shift" your view to find them. You must wait until they crawl back into the screen. This is very annoying.
2. On the same note, when you pick up objects, they can fall out of view and you cannot retrieve them easily.
3. You cannot kiss the baby. I consider this the worst drawback of the game. Everyone wants to kiss a baby!
4. Soon after you adopt a baby, it gets sick and you must give it medicine. This is really annoying.
5. It can be very difficult to handle objects. The cursor is a hand. You click on objects to hold them. If you don't put the object down in just the right way, it falls to the floor, and often out of view.
6. There is only one crib, with room for only one baby. When a baby is in the crib, it stays there. If a baby is anywhere else, it follows your from room to room. Since you can only put one baby in the crib (and there is only one crib), you can only have one sleeping baby at a time. (jeez, this is hard to explain...) Suffice to say, if you want to put all the babyz to sleep, you cannot. They will nap on the floor for a few minutes, but if you "go" to another room, they wake up and follow you.
It would have been nice if the game let you have one crib for each baby you adopt.
***** UPDATE *****
After exploring the Web and finding forums on various Babyz sites, I discovered that some of the drawbacks I mention above are eliminated by making the screen size larger (you do this by re-configuring the control panel display setting). After doing this, I found that the babyz no longer crawl out of my field of view, and the crib appears as full-size, allowing you to put 3 babyz inside to sleep. Also, because the full refrigerator now appears in the kitchen, you can click on it and open it.
I'm amazed that I needed to go to a "fan" website to find out this information. Shame on Mattel for not providing better instructions!
The instruction manual for the game is sorely lacking. It only explains the bare minimum. If you want more information, you must use the game's online help, which isn't much better.
I'm a technical writer, and I usually like online help. But not for kids games. A kid and a parent need a regular paper manual for instructions. Online help is very annoying and cumbersome in this situation.
The Game is Extremely Cute
On the positive side, this is an extremely cute game. The babyz are adorable. They make little baby sounds and do baby things. My 8-year-old just didn't want to stop playing it, despite many frustrations.
In general, it's a nice way to pass some time on the computer. But with all its faults, I can understand why I only paid $5 for it.
If you see this game at a discount store, make sure it does include the headset before you buy it.
I would recommend it for kids ages 8 and above. My 5 1/2 year old had major trouble with it, and stopped playing after 20 minutes.
**** UPDATE ****
My kids have been playing with Babyz for about a week. I must say, they wholeheartedly love this game. Especially my 8-year-old. She has "adopted" several babyz and spends well over an hour at a time "playing" with them. She has taught them to say several words and has taken care of them when they have become "sick" with colds or "chicken pox."
My younger daughter has gotten used to the controls and now has no trouble playing the game.
I still think this game has its drawbacks. But my kids absolutely adore it. I would highly recommend this for a little girl, ages 8 to 11. It's very cute, and it sort-of teaches a young girl some of the responsibilities of taking care of babies. If you need a gift for a little girl who is very nurturing, or who wishes she had a baby sibling, this computer game would be a good choice.
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