Putt-Putt Travels Through Time

Developer/Publisher:  Humongous Entertainment
Year Released:  1997

Review by Rosemary Young (July, 1998)
pptime.jpgDare I say it? Putt-Putt Travels Through Time is another excellent game from Humongous. I have thoroughly appreciated each one of their titles that I have reviewed, and so have all the kids that I've co-opted to put them on trial.

Frankly, I was worried about what I was going to say in this review of Putt-Putt Travels Through Time, more of the same I supposed, so I arranged to give this one the litmus test. I got hold of a six year old child (plus mum and dad) who had never used a computer before, let alone a mouse, plonked the game in front of him and said 'Go' :-)

Mouse talk
Well ... I did put in the CD and press the start button, I even tried for a quick lesson in mouse manipulation, but as soon as my pupil got an inkling of the idea I was promptly dismissed. I just sat back and watched as he clumsily (at first) waved the cursor around and very quickly got the hang of it before he began clicking away and laughing at all the animations. Then, with a few prompts from me, he found the coin to work Mr Firebird's time machine and was off on his journey to The Age of Dinosaurs, Medieval Land, The Old West, and The Future in search of Putt-Putt's goodies that were swallowed up by the malfunctioning machine.

It was no time at all before Ms B the Brontosaurus politely moved her tail out of the way so that repairs could be made to a broken bridge. Then, after a few servings of Primordial Soup, Putt-Putt befriended a timid Tyrannosaurus Rex and happily joined him in a game of Picture Jumble, which my pupil quickly mastered. He was having so much fun here he had to be reminded that there was more to see and do. So off to meet Toby the Train then on to Medieval Land where the rusted gates were soon opened only to find that King Chariot had tight-hold of one of Putt-Putt's precious possessions, his science report, and wouldn't part with it unless he received a book about elephants in return.

New devotees
We had surprise dinner guests that evening, both pupil and parents were hooked, I even suspect I sold a computer for some lucky store. The proud parents were delighted that their son had taken to a computer like a fish to water and they were even more surprised that here was a children's computer game that had friendly colourful graphics and lovable characters that were helpful and polite rather than intent on beating each other up. Until then they'd only seen the frenetic demonstration games at their local computer store and they were all to do with fighting. Putt-Putt was indeed a revelation.

So I have to report that my experiment was an unqualified success. Though my star pupil had to be reminded often about the long-term objectives of the story, he certainly learned the easy point and click interface very quickly and he understood individual problems as they were presented and eagerly set out in search of an answer.

Make the journey
Once more this Junior Adventure from Humongous is designed with multiple pathways so that the story changes and it can be played many times over. Putt-Putt's science report, for instance, might not be in the hands of the King; it might be in the museum or under the feet of a grazing dinosaur. It's aimed at the age group three to eight, but, as with my exemplary pupil, some young players will likely need parental guidance to complete the game. Also, it is out of reach of hearing impaired children because dialogue comprehension is an important part of play and the game is not subtitled.

Why not join Putt-Putt on his travels? In this adventure he's looking for his Smokey the Fire Engine Lunchbox, his calculator, his science report and, of course, Pep the puppy who chases after the disappearing goodies when the time machine goes wrong. The problems are loads of fun, the graphics are as cute as can be, and there are also a number of mini games hidden away inside to hold up the story occasionally. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1998. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Windows CD-ROM, Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or higher, IBM PC or 100% Compatible 33 MHz 486, 8MB RAM, SVGA (640x480) 256 colors, Sound Card, Double-speed CD-ROM drive.