My 3 year old, like most boys his age, loves Paw Patrol. So against my better judgement I purchased PAW Patrol: On a Roll so that I could play through it with my son and he could take a stab at using a controller for more than just starting and stopping Netflix.
This game screams low budget. I've only played through 4 missions with my son, but it is obvious from startup. While there is music, they don't have the theme song for the show, just a generic sounding instrument only mix of it. There is no voice acting for the dogs, only for Ryder and even then, for a North American made show his voice is inexplicably British. Every mission has the exact same structure and goal. An animal is in danger and two dogs will need to work together to save said animal, with two additional pups helping out at very specific points. Missions are broken into two stages, one for each main dog that consist of light platforming and occasional single button presses to progress. Sometimes that button press is to pull a rope, sometimes it is to use one of two dog specific skills, and sometimes it is to call in one of the two additional dogs so they can do their specific thing for that mission. Side note: my son thanks the dogs after they come to help him out and it's pretty fucking adorable. Anyway, it might sound like there's some randomness to it, but there isn't. These actions pop up in almost the exact same order, and you do each of them twice a stage except for calling for help, which you do once. Then you repeat for the other dog. And then the mission is done and you saved "Animal". It's always an animal. You also get to pick up dog treats and golden Paw Patrol symbols while you trudge through it, and there's a rating and an extra reward at the end if you do. The reward is a picture and it's hard not to pick up everything. Ryder even pops up on screen to tell you when the golden Paw Patrol symbols are nearby so you don't miss them.
There are obvious omissions that confirm this is just a product to milk cash from parents. You don't get to drive our use the dogs vehicles, despite it being a big draw of the show, for my kids at least. There are cinematics where you see the dogs in their vehicles, but there's no control. When you call a pup for help they are driving their vehicles but again, not for the player character. The missions share names with episodes of the show, but they don't use the plots from the show to frame the missions, but instead come up with something even more generic. You don't see any of the side characters from the show aside from some crude drawings of them in the mission briefings. It seems like despite having a license to produce a game based upon this franchise, they didn't receive even basic assets or support. I don't feel like it's unreasonable to expect them to have pulled voice samples from the show, unless of course its an issue with paying those voice actors. They probably didn't want to pay the voice actors.
The one good thing I can say about my experience with this game so far is that the Xbox One Co-Pilot mode is really useful for introducing a child to video games. I could handle the platforming if he was having trouble, and he could focus on just the button presses. Side note: my son loves both the colour blue and the letter X so even when they game would tell him to press the B button he would say "hmmm, lets try the blue X button". Anyway, he was able to have his own controller while we played which he seemed to enjoy a lot more than sitting on my lap and pressing buttons on my controller. Solid feature.
So what does my toddler think? He loves it. He can watch his favourite characters run and jump across the screen, using tools from their "Pup Packs" to save the animal of the day. If your kid is on the younger side and likes Paw Patrol they'll probably enjoy it too. At the same time, 3 year olds are terrible judges of quality.
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