Peanuts: Where's the Blanket Charlie Brown?

Review by Orb
August 2002

Charles Schultz was the demigod cartoonist of my childhood. As a third-grader I would practice for hours trying to replicate his drawings, and I loved reading the Peanuts strips and studying how he drew his characters. As the years went by I developed other cartoonist loves, but my first love was always Peanuts. Imagine my delight in finding that Tivola has published a title based on Charles Schultz's enduring comic characters.

Peanuts has been in print for over 50 years and is the most widely syndicated comic strip in history. So of course there would be some trepidation that, in this new medium, it would not be true to the characters and situations that so many readers are intimately familiar with. The truth is that a fabulous job has been done here in duplicating the simplicity and fun of the comic and adding an educational element for children while keeping it enjoyable for an adult player.

The game goal is to track down Linus's blanket, which has disappeared. The player picks one of two characters, Lucy or Charlie Brown, and plays the game in the third person. My parents always made it clear to me that I was Lucy's lost twin as a child, so my choice was a no-brainer. Lucy (or Charlie), accompanied by Snoopy, travels through a number of entertaining settings in order to find the blanket.

Where's the Blanket Charlie Brown? is a very linear game, which is not necessarily a bad thing for an edutainment title. The length of the game is surprising—and very satisfying. Although not overly long, there are a goodly number of locations in the game that are visited, including Schroeder's house, computer camp, supermarket, school, library and more.

There is a small box for inventory. The nice thing about the inventory is there is not too much of it, and what is there is used in the same general area in which gameplay is occurring before moving on to the next one, so there are no red herring items or old inventory to keep track of. The number of overall items are also kept to a minimum.

The puzzles are pretty much oriented toward problem-solving and logic, which is great for kids. None are terribly challenging for adults but all are perfect and entertaining for children. The game is not so simplistic that an adult playing with a child would not have a good time, and I enjoyed it on my own as well. In additon to the main game there are nine component games. These have a number of subjects, music and math, and some are arcade games. Each has two difficulty levels, and even the hardest level is a pretty straightforward matter for the adult player.

The music, a kind of Vince Guaraldi lite, is in keeping with the sort associated with the Peanuts television specials. A whimsical element from the television specials, the sound of a horn as a substitute for the voice of an adult, is included.

Character movement is very controlled, and once in a location, the character remains fixed and cannot move other than from room to room or when moving to clicked-on items in game areas. Environments are put together to give the player plenty to explore and look for but not in such a way that would be overwhelming to a kid. Conversations occur when characters are clicked on.

One drawback to the game is the save feature. There is a great limitation as far as saving—you get only one slot, and saving is automatic. If the player switches characters, he or she must start the game over.

Whoever was responsible for choosing Tivola to develop and publish a game based on these beloved characters, who have really become part of the fabric of our culture, chose wisely. Tivola seems to do a consistently high-quality job in the edutainment titles they publish, with almost an old-world attention to detail, and this game certainly is no exception.

Where's the Blanket Charlie Brown? is a perfect game for kids—it provides a whimsical, entertaining activity but is constructive from an educational standpoint. It's also a fun trifle to pass a bit of time for the adult who is looking for a relaxing and not-too-challenging experience. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: The Web Production
Publisher: Tivola
Release Date: May 2002

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

Win 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Pentium 166 MHz
SVGA graphics card
4X CD ROM drive
40 MB free hard drive space

OS 8.1
Power PC
Thousands of colors
4X CD ROM drive
40 MB hard drive space

Where to Find It

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