capsule review

Wandering Willows

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Wandering Willows

In Wandering Willows you play a hot-air balloon traveler who crash-lands on a bucolic island. Your mission is to make friends and perform tasks for characters who can help you repair your balloon and leave the island--and you're helped by little animals that look suspiciously like Pokemon characters.

The opening animation is well done, and game play is smooth. The animated people and creatures are adorable, and the background is nicely drawn. However, as nice as the game is, I found it an odd mix of boring and frustrating. Your tasks--at least at in the early levels--include growing cotton and wheat, buying thread, and "baking" tarts (basically collecting items and clicking a button). You're hand-fed instructions that seem to be overly complete yet lack useful info (clicking the "Skip Tutorial" button works only temporarily). For example, when I was asked to collect twigs I wasted many precious demo minutes trying to find them, and discovered by accident that I needed to have my pet dig into piles of dirt to find the twigs. To be fair, I did not review the Help screens before beginning the game; that probably would have saved me some time. One other gripe: The dialog appears in balloons on screen, and sometimes is spoken. The spoken and on-screen dialog never match, unfortunately.

Wandering Willows ran well on my Windows XP laptop, but the game maker does not provide compatibility information. If you run an OS other than XP, be sure to try the demo before buying the program.

If you want a cute, leisurely paced game, download the demo and give Wandering Willows a try. It's fairly well done, and could be worth the $20 registration fee.

--Kim Saccio-Kent

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Wandering Willows

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