Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair

Developer:  Hulabee
Publisher:  Plaid Banana Entertainment
Year Released:  2002

Review by Rosemary Young (June, 2002)
Ollo is a delightful ball of fun. He's a bright, blue clay ball with big, saucer eyes and he's set to take young children along on a wonderful journey of laughter, discovery and learning.

Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair comes from the creators of Putt-Putt and Freddi Fish. It has many similarities with the games in those two series although it is pitched at a slightly younger age group, children 3 and up according to the box cover. Pre school children aged 3 to 6 would be a better guide, with 3 year olds needing a bit of guidance and 6 year olds able to fend for themselves.

Rolling along
The story is funny and engaging. It's almost time for the Sunny Valley Fair and Ollo helps his good friend, Rose, cultivate a gigantic, juicy tomato to enter in the gardening competition. Alas, the tomato grows too heavy for the vine and it falls to the ground and rolls through the valley wreaking havoc. If only Ollo can set everything right in readiness for the fair ... and catch the wayward tomato so that Rose can win the competition.

To make it easy for young players to get involved and follow the story it is divided into six bite-sized chapters, each with a primary goal to achieve. Firstly Ollo is challenged to help Lottie transport some balloons to the fair and then to find the seed to grow just the right tomato. Next, after the tomato has escaped, there's all the mishaps to be undone: Find Blimpo the clown's wig that was lost in the kafuffle; collect the scattered twigs from Penny's nest; help Wally re-bake his spoiled cake and put his oven back in working order ... and so on.

Working things out
The game is all simple point and click and the cursor clearly indicates when there is someone to talk to or something to interact with. There's a whole cast of friendly characters to meet and to help with solving their particular problem. This involves listening to what the characters have to say and then carefully searching for the item or items they want. Some items simply require hunting down, whilst others are more elusive and Ollo might need to overcome a small problem to get to them such as finding a ladder to climb a tree or fixing a cart blocking the roadway. So as not to become too big and unwieldy the gameworld expands gradually as each task, or set of tasks, is completed.

Along with this type of problem solving there's also more learning experiences hidden in the game in the form of clickable hotspots that have short games to play. These include exercises in counting, recognising larger and smaller amounts, colour and pattern recognition, and more. They are all part and parcel of the gameworld and don't feel like 'lessons' at all. Although there's no need for encouragement some of the games reward the player with a marble when completed and this is used to play the marble game that is accessible at any time.

Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair plays just like a familiar storybook and it's as cute as can be. The narration is excellent and is subtitled throughout. The graphics too are extremely good, both friendly and colourful, and with some loveable, bright-eyed characters to get to know. The manual for Ollo is included on the disk and is accessible from the opening 'splash' screen. As well as a general overview of the game and some technical tips, it has a step by step walkthrough so there's no chance of getting stuck. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2002. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Win 95/98/ME/2000Pro/XP, Pentium 233 MHz or faster, 32MB RAM or greater, 150MB free hard disk space, CD-ROM Drive, 16-bit DirectX-compatible sound card, 16-bit color, DirectX-compatible video card, DirectX 5 or greater (DirectX 8 included)

PowerMac, iMac or G3 Processor, 233 MHz or faster, 64MB RAM, 150 MB free hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, Thousands of Colors Video Display.