Tonka Construction offers kids a chance to drive Tonka heavy machinery in several jobs in the virtual world of Tonka Land. From the city with its three projects to the mountains to clear a snow slide, Tonka vehicles roll into action with more available in the garage area. Screens change in response to actions -- a road snakes across the dessert, the city skyline shows effects of building projects, and snow removal clears an avalanche. Gameplay is non-linear, with projects selected off a map including five starting areas: Desert, Quarry, Mountain, City, or Garage.
In the Garage, players repair and maintain the grader, bulldozer and monster truck by replacing spare parts or painting the vehicles. Each activity focuses on an aspect of decision making (right parts) or color selection in the paint shop. Seven different colors are available, but only one color per part is allowed. Once done, players take the vehicle for a ride where they can test out the controls (ignition key, accelerator pedal, etc.).
Unfortunately, while assembling the machinery is fun, a sense of disappointment is sure to occur when the color schemes fail to remain on the vehicles and return to standard yellow and black immediately after leaving the paint shop. The ride isn't much fun either, as the game changes from a driver's perspective to a side view. As in the other activities, completing the activity earns the player a printable award.
The city offers three building projects: a city park, castle, or modern skyscraper. After a site is selected, buildings are demolished, the land surveyed, and construction begins. Construction is slightly different for each project and increases in order of difficulty. Heavy machinery is used to dig foundations, build walls and supports, and place various items needed by the crew. Extra items are available for placement after construction is finished, and if placed correctly, come to life with a short animation.
Despite the cute nature of the graphics and the humor of placing items after construction, frustration can become a factor as the game fails to explain clearly how to disperse vehicles once the job is done. Younger children and even some adults may experience difficulty in maneuvering the trucks and placing various items on the site. Novice players would be advised to tackle less challenging areas prior to the building projects, but, once mastered, this area fosters a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
The desert segment is less complicated than city building, as the road leading to Tonka Town must first be cleared, graded, paved, and smoothed using various equipment (e.g., a bulldozer, grader, and roller). Even the line down the center is the job of the fledgling construction worker. Rock blasting to build a tunnel through the mountain and bridge building to cross a canyon makes the activity fun with good visual results. As with the city projects, extras can be added for animation effects. Unlike the city projects, though, trucks are lined up and can be dragged easily to the road for use.
The ranger needs help clearing a terrible avalanche and rescuing stranded cars. Plowing snow releases some cars but others need assistance from the tow truck. A path must be cleared to the snow lodge by using the front loader and the grader is used to break up ice. The activity is certainly one that kids will want to play repeatedly, as the vehicles are easy to control and the ranger gives feedback on how well they're doing and what action comes next.
Gold is the goal in the quarry, where players dig and push rocks and rubble into the rock crusher. Red and blue rock piles hide surprises once the gold is found. Earning certificates in all seven areas garners the player a "Master Builder" award, with additional play possible by simply returning to an area and clicking on the demolition option.
Controls are relatively easy and the game features a point-and-click motif with simple mouse movement. In a few instances, though, the instructions aren't especially clear on how to make certain events occur, such as clicking off screen to deselect a truck in the city.
Tonka Construction suffers from a mix of activities that feel either too hard or too easy. Young players may find easier areas challenging and hard areas extremely difficult, while older players will be challenged by the tough areas but bored with the easy activities. The level of enjoyment will vary with age and skill, but, despite its flaws, the game offers a decent look into the world of construction.
Graphics: Graphics are well done with a cartoon-like flavor. The changes that occur on the main screen during gameplay are impressive and instill a nice sense of accomplishment. Some of the graphics, such as the waterfall on the mountain, look especially nice for a child's game.
Sound: Voices are good, and the sounds of the various vehicles make the activities seem realistic.
Enjoyment: Challenges will vary depending on the age and skill of the user. But all players should find the activities fun and enjoyable to some degree.
Replay Value: Playing once is probably enough since nothing really changes during a replay, but the lure of big vehicle construction is bound to appeal to some.
People who downloaded Tonka Construction have also downloaded:
Tonka Search & Rescue, Tonka Search & Rescue 2, Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds, Reader Rabbit's Kindergarten, JumpStart Kindergarten Reading, Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside
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