I have suddenly been put in the position of reviewing a game that is clearly not made for me in any way. It's the Big Game, Charlie Brown! is a title made for the younger gamers in the crowd, and so to have me play it creates something of a challenge as I try to view the title not for its ability to entertain the typical gamer, but for its potential to entertain someone a little smaller. However, it is my professional opinion as someone who's played a lot of video games that this one doesn't even manage that.
Describing the game is somewhat hard despite its simplicity. It's a combination of a very simple adventure game and a very simple baseball game. The first part consists of the ever-put-down Charlie Brown as he wanders through the neighbourhood, looking for his friends to join his baseball team. You'll wander between screens of ol' Chuck's neighbourhood, with Snoopy close behind, entering houses and talking to others.
Getting each person join requires the completion of three tasks: first, you must complete the 'social' puzzle, where you must do certain things like having a particular character in your team already or following along behind you. You'll then need to complete a task for them, in the form of a mini-game, like playing a simple Simon game for Schroedinger or an equipment-sorting game for Patty. After this you're given another game to complete, though this one involves baseball, as each of the characters introduces you to a different facet of the game, whether it's batting, base-running, pitching, or fielding.
The second half of the game involves the actual baseball that the title promises. It's an extremely simplified version of the sport, where batting is just a matting of pressing the mouse button at the right time, and fielding is nothing more than clicking where you want a player to go. This is unsurprising, considering the game's target audience, but even then the gameplay is slow-paced. Your players run like they've got lead shoes, and I can't imagine a child wanting to play through it more than once.
And that's the game, really. It takes about an hour to beat, with or without a level of skill in gaming. There's really not a whole lot one can say about a title that isn't made to be played by anyone that has hit their teen years. For one, the game is slow. Charlie Brown plods around like he's dragging a weight behind him, and conversations take far too long to get through. The tutorials for each mini-game need to be spelled out in great detail before you're allowed to play them, and there's no way to skip through them.
Despite having multiple difficulty levels available for the mini-games, which is a great idea for those who may not quite have the motor skills or memory for the toughest levels, they can only be played once, which was weird. I actually liked playing Pigpen's game (it involves spinning gears in the right direction by connecting more gears to them) and wanted to play through it some more, but that would mean going through the game again, something I was not willing to do.
Not even the Charlie Brown license could make the game look good. The animation is jerky and the voices poorly done, lacking the usual charm from the show. A lot of the humour is there - at least, from what I can remember about the show; it's been a while since I last watched it - but considering the poor quality of the voices and animation, it's just not as good to watch and seems more like an afterthought, like the ability to click on random objects around the various screens you walk through.
It's just not a fun game. Neither part of the game is particularly enjoyable to experience, and lack much of the charm typical of Charlie Brown; even the victory screen is a simple loop of two frames of animation and a few seconds of music. Even so, it's not a game meant for me, and so when it comes to assigning it a score, it's all about whether a child would enjoy it. The verdict? Maybe it could keep their attention for a while, but aside for the fact that they're watching Charlie Brown walk around on the screen, I can't imagine it being much fun for them, no matter their age.