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Kids Make the Darndest Games: A Look at the Almost Unbearably Delightful 'Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure'

If this doesn't make you scrunch into a fetal position out of sheer cuteness, you might not have a heart.

Parents instinctively want to celebrate every little thing that pops out of their child, no matter how mundane it might be. That's understandable. It's your offspring, a tiny human representation of all your hopes and dreams for the future. When your kid screams out something about how a bear is a turtle and the mailman looks like farts, that is undeniably the most hilariously creative thing you have ever heard. Undoubtedly, many others will find it hilarious, too. Most would be content to simply film their kids saying and doing absurd things and post them on YouTube. Once in a while, however, someone takes things a step further, and actually puts their child's innocent nonsense to great, creative use.

One such case is Untold Entertainment founder Ryan Henson Creighton. Untold makes a lot of Flash games, some of which you've likely clicked on at some point over the course of your life--possibly on purpose. Ryan has a daughter named Cassie, a precocious, energetic little girl who has an active interest in her father's line of work. When Ryan suggested she come along with him to The Toronto Game Jam--a festival of developers making games over the course of a single weekend--she greeted the opportunity not with the usual scrunchy face a kid might give at the prospect of hanging out with their dad all weekend, but one of pure excitement. So much so, that dad had to have a little talk with her before the event:

Me: Remember, you’re the first little girl who’s ever made a game at TOJam. And everyone’s worried you’re going to run around screaming and making noise and wrecking things.

Cassie: (shocked face) No i won’t!

Me: *i* know you won’t. (totally lying here – i was as nervous about it as anyone) But you have to prove to everyone that little girls can make video games too. If you’re very well behaved, then next year if another little girl wants to come and make a game, the TOJam people will say “the little girl who made a game last year was SO wonderful, we’d LOVE to see more little girls making games.”

Cassie: i’ll be have. i will!

== TEASER ==

The resulting game closely resembles the child-written comic book Axe Cop, as seen through the dual lenses of My Little Pony and Pokemon. Titled Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure, this Flash-based game operates in the vein of classic point-and-click adventures, but with the added bonus of hand-drawn art and voice work from little Cassie herself.

All programming and animation was, of course, Ryan's work, but all of the drawings are the result of many hours of drawing by Cassie. The imagery is exactly as bananas as you'd expect the art of a five-year-old to be, and that's half the game's charm. The other half is the voice work. Cassie voices Sissy, a girl who friggin' loves ponycorns--which are, like, the best thing in the world because they're like ponies AND unicorns--and wants to collect them in jars. Ryan clearly has a great deal of fun voicing the remaining characters, which include an angry dinosaur, a dickish lemon, and a mysterious ponycorn benefactor known only as "Orangeboy."

Of course the game is incredibly simple and short. It's a project sprung from the unchecked imagination of a five-year-old, after all. But that's what makes it so great. Every aspect of Ponycorn Adventure exists in that spectrum of imaginary loopiness that most of us stop being able to see once we become teenagers and incorrectly learn from our peers that imagination is for stupid babies who cry all the time. Every phrase uttered by Cassie shoots out of her mouth like it's the most exciting thing in the world, and that energy is incredibly infectious.

I don't want to herald this game as more than it is, mind you. It's something that will take you a short few minutes of your day to play, and you won't find yourself thinking much while you do it. That said, in the few minutes I spent playing it, the smile on my face never went away. As a game, it's an adorable trifle, but as an example of a father empowering his child's imagination and showing her how hard work can pay off in the end, it's simply priceless.

If you find yourself having a similar reaction as I did and want to make some kind of contribution for Creighton's effort, you can opt to click through the ad that plays before the game (maybe not the unfortunate one for TNT's The Glades, which features the tagline "Murder is Back in Season"), or send a couple of bucks via Paypal to an account he's set up. All proceeds will go toward Cassie's education fund. He's currently raised over $1,000, which is apparently enough to buy "500 fake moustaches, which she'll use in her campus-wide protest against perceived gender imbalance in comp sci admissions."

Cassie and Ryan Creighton

Photo taken from Untold Entertainment's Official Blog

Alex Navarro on Google+
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Posted by Alex

Parents instinctively want to celebrate every little thing that pops out of their child, no matter how mundane it might be. That's understandable. It's your offspring, a tiny human representation of all your hopes and dreams for the future. When your kid screams out something about how a bear is a turtle and the mailman looks like farts, that is undeniably the most hilariously creative thing you have ever heard. Undoubtedly, many others will find it hilarious, too. Most would be content to simply film their kids saying and doing absurd things and post them on YouTube. Once in a while, however, someone takes things a step further, and actually puts their child's innocent nonsense to great, creative use.

One such case is Untold Entertainment founder Ryan Henson Creighton. Untold makes a lot of Flash games, some of which you've likely clicked on at some point over the course of your life--possibly on purpose. Ryan has a daughter named Cassie, a precocious, energetic little girl who has an active interest in her father's line of work. When Ryan suggested she come along with him to The Toronto Game Jam--a festival of developers making games over the course of a single weekend--she greeted the opportunity not with the usual scrunchy face a kid might give at the prospect of hanging out with their dad all weekend, but one of pure excitement. So much so, that dad had to have a little talk with her before the event:

Me: Remember, you’re the first little girl who’s ever made a game at TOJam. And everyone’s worried you’re going to run around screaming and making noise and wrecking things.

Cassie: (shocked face) No i won’t!

Me: *i* know you won’t. (totally lying here – i was as nervous about it as anyone) But you have to prove to everyone that little girls can make video games too. If you’re very well behaved, then next year if another little girl wants to come and make a game, the TOJam people will say “the little girl who made a game last year was SO wonderful, we’d LOVE to see more little girls making games.”

Cassie: i’ll be have. i will!

== TEASER ==

The resulting game closely resembles the child-written comic book Axe Cop, as seen through the dual lenses of My Little Pony and Pokemon. Titled Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure, this Flash-based game operates in the vein of classic point-and-click adventures, but with the added bonus of hand-drawn art and voice work from little Cassie herself.

All programming and animation was, of course, Ryan's work, but all of the drawings are the result of many hours of drawing by Cassie. The imagery is exactly as bananas as you'd expect the art of a five-year-old to be, and that's half the game's charm. The other half is the voice work. Cassie voices Sissy, a girl who friggin' loves ponycorns--which are, like, the best thing in the world because they're like ponies AND unicorns--and wants to collect them in jars. Ryan clearly has a great deal of fun voicing the remaining characters, which include an angry dinosaur, a dickish lemon, and a mysterious ponycorn benefactor known only as "Orangeboy."

Of course the game is incredibly simple and short. It's a project sprung from the unchecked imagination of a five-year-old, after all. But that's what makes it so great. Every aspect of Ponycorn Adventure exists in that spectrum of imaginary loopiness that most of us stop being able to see once we become teenagers and incorrectly learn from our peers that imagination is for stupid babies who cry all the time. Every phrase uttered by Cassie shoots out of her mouth like it's the most exciting thing in the world, and that energy is incredibly infectious.

I don't want to herald this game as more than it is, mind you. It's something that will take you a short few minutes of your day to play, and you won't find yourself thinking much while you do it. That said, in the few minutes I spent playing it, the smile on my face never went away. As a game, it's an adorable trifle, but as an example of a father empowering his child's imagination and showing her how hard work can pay off in the end, it's simply priceless.

If you find yourself having a similar reaction as I did and want to make some kind of contribution for Creighton's effort, you can opt to click through the ad that plays before the game (maybe not the unfortunate one for TNT's The Glades, which features the tagline "Murder is Back in Season"), or send a couple of bucks via Paypal to an account he's set up. All proceeds will go toward Cassie's education fund. He's currently raised over $1,000, which is apparently enough to buy "500 fake moustaches, which she'll use in her campus-wide protest against perceived gender imbalance in comp sci admissions."

Cassie and Ryan Creighton

Photo taken from Untold Entertainment's Official Blog

Edited by maxB

thats pretty cool 
reminds me of axe cop

Edited by TehFlan

Cool. I'll try this game out, I guess.

Edited by Cerogravian

Haha,  I just played this an hour ago! Did not expect to see it turn up here...
Quite a charming piece of clicking.
 
EDIT: Forgot to mention that there is some serious citrus-oriented racism and profiling in there. Be warned...

Posted by lokilaufey

It's great Ryan involved his daughter in his interest like that, and even greater that she was able to have fun and exercise her creativity too. 

Posted by RTSlord
thats pretty awesome
Posted by Creigz

That is awesome.

Posted by rndmtask

You know what's weird? A goat on a pole.

Posted by ABritishNerd
@RTSlord: Why yes it is!
Posted by StingerMK2

ok, that was kind of cool, hope they do more games together in the future, as simple as it was, it gave me a Kirby's Epic Yarn child like glee whilst playing it 
 
where are they from? i love the girls accent, being from the UK its hard to pinpoint certain american accents

Posted by Daveyo520

Glad to see your heart still has some beats left in it Alex.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

Neato. The dad seems pretty awesome,
Posted by Gregomasta

Not interested in the story but that is a precious ass picture of him and his daughter.  

Edited by beard_of_zeus

You weren't kidding about it being short; I read the article, played the game, and came back to comment already! It did teach my stone heart how to feel joy again with its brand of pure, uncut happiness and whismy, so I suppose it was worth it :) 
 
The daughter's voice work certainly conveys her excitement at making this game. Sissy really wants those damn ponycorns, that's for sure. I presume they were a failed genetic experiment and now have to be rounded up in those glass prisons for the sake of science.

Edited by I_smell

HAHahhaaha awesome. The twist with orangeboy: I never saw it coming!

Posted by Beforet

Is it me, or does Alex possess a taste for the toothbreakingly adorable?

Posted by Xpgamer7

Sounds charming, love the pic.

Posted by crusader8463

Guess I don't have a heart.

Edited by blacklab

Great story Alex, and way to go Cassie!   
 
EDIT - GOTY for fathers of girls 4-7 years old (like me)!

Posted by DeadDorf

Their site seems to be down. :(

Posted by kalmis

This game made me smile, so mission accomplished

Posted by LiquidSwords
  Kids!
Posted by Selftest

"Bam! Magical powers! AWWWWW YEAH!" May be the cutest thing I've ever heard. Ever. The world needs things like this.

Posted by boylie

That is about the cutest thing ever. Cool story brah.

Edited by BlinkinCard41

I went to the page where the game is and it seems the only option I have is to donate some money.
 
Edit: It seems like the site was just being really slow. The game's all loaded up now.

Posted by bassman2112

Oh man...
 
I totally just beat this...
 
And it was totally worth it =) 5 happy turtles out of 4 evil lemons.

Posted by Xpgamer7
Posted by Doctorchimp

DON'T LET JEFF IN THIS THREAD

Posted by bass_hero

Amazing end to my day. Damn Lemon, just so goddamn evil. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES

Posted by artofwar420

We braked the site, nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Edited by Zimbo

Cuteness Overload.

Posted by gakon

I wonder if Dickish Lemon is friends with Saucepan Man.

Edited by Chop

TNT? 
 
Alex are you living in some crazy time warp?!?!

Posted by CakeBomb

Kinda novel, but I don't find kids cute at all so, yeah, I don't have a heart, at least for kids.

Posted by BD

It's true the Lemon is a complete dick.

Posted by bybeach

Bahhhhhhh, daughter and father teams. Reminds me of that comic where a daughter/father are in a video game store looking for Zombie games to co-op play, and the daughter recites happily just how she would go about wasting her dad if he got bit by a zombie. This of course to let him know she has been doing her part, and to make him happy.
Posted by DrJota

Dammit,I was trying to keep my heart cold!

Posted by MasterVerhoffin

I am highly disappointed by the negative portrayal of lemons in today's media. Come, my lemon brethren! Rise up!

Posted by Claude

I see games like this being used in Psychology one day. Very telling, art through a kid's eyes. 
 
The writing in the articles on Giant Bomb have gone up tenfold by the way.

Posted by Pepsiman
@MasterVerhoffin: Well, to be fair, lemons were the ones who perpetrated the Great Citrus Explosion of 1995. It's understandable why people have lingering misgivings about them. They did a lot of damage in those days.
Posted by pheriannath

I... I think my heart just melted.

Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff
@LiquidSwords: That image scared me. I thought it was some horrible gif showing something that was going to make me feel bad. I'm glad I looked again.
Posted by steelknight2000

A HEART?!!!! THIS BOY HAS NO HEART!!!

Posted by Fontan

Couldn't stop smiling all the way through. 
 
And goats on poles are indeed strange.

Posted by CommodoreGroovy

Awesome. The voice work really sells it for me.

Posted by zepp

This story made me smile. Nice work, Mr. Narvarro.

Posted by Bishna
@Pepsiman:  To generalize and blame all lemons for the trespasses of a small group of obviously disturbed produce not only casts a bad light on lemons but on you as well.
Online
Posted by MyaSharona

D'awww. What a great dad. 

Posted by Nonentity

Hey tiger, close your eyes.

Posted by TheHT

D:

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