Anastasia: Adventures with Pooka and Bartok may be intended for young children but, due to frustrating gameplay, the designers may well have missed the mark. Finding locations is often a problem as is the ease in which objects can be overlooked. Furthermore, the manual is not much help in providing instructions on how to play the game.
As a typical example of the problems encountered, during the first part of the game you must find Dmitri's location in St. Petersburg. You discover a fortuneteller who can provide the information easily enough but, in order to get it, you must get something from a clothier for the seer. Finding the clothes seller's stall is a very long and hard process with no discernible clues or hints provided -- stumbling on his location is more accidental than not after spending an hour or so of traversing back and forth across St. Petersburg.
The problem in finding locations is not an isolated incident. Navigating through the pictures can be extremely confusing due to the requirement to position the cursor in an exact location on the screen to find specific exits. The overall effect is one of tiring the player out rather than providing an enjoyable adventure, which may lead to intense frustration, especially for the targeted audience.
Another disappointment is the lack of interaction with any of the characters from the movie. In each instance, Pooka is on his own along with commentary from Bartok). Although Meg Ryan does the voiceover for Anya's diary entries, you never see the character other than in pictures within the book. The one time Dmitri makes an appearance he's asleep and, after waking him up, the game switches immediately back to the diary.
Children who hope to relive some of the better moments of the movie through the game will be sorely disappointed. Nearly everything of importance occurs off screen via the diary. The only active character who appears regularly other than Bartok is Pooka and after wandering through the environments trying to stumble across exits and being subjected to the same comments repeatedly, even his presence becomes tedious despite the voiceover by Hank Azaria.
In short, the game is not up to usual Disney standards and should be avoided as a tie-in to the movie. On its own, it's simply not satisfying and the mini-games are not interesting enough to justify repeated playing. Overall, Anastasia: Adventures with Pooka and Bartok seems more like an exercise in frustration and boredom than a fun adventure.
Graphics: The graphics are very nice -- clean, clear and colorful.
Sound: The voiceovers are clear and easy to understand and the background sound is nice but not particularly noteworthy.
Enjoyment: The lack of clear paths through the adventure makes it frustrating and slow and children are likely to give up before the game is completed.
Replay Value: Nothing ever changes, not even Bartok's snide comments. Even the mini-games don't warrant replay.
Anastasia: Adventures with Pooka and Bartok! is based on the animated movie Anastasia and designed for young players. It features five different scenes, depicting situations from the movie. Diary entries by Anya tell the happenings between those stages. The player takes the role of the puppy Pooka and needs to solve problems and puzzles to help Anya out. When searching through the screens, Pooka may meet the minions of the villain Rasputin. Then they take him to the underworld where he has to solve action or strategy mini games.
The majority of the game is a traditional point & click adventure. Bartok, the bat, plays only a secondary part and provides some advice here and there. If players are stuck, they can use the in-game hint system.
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