Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Game
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-11-17 PS2 Action/Platform E (Everyone) The Game Factory / EKO System

Hint: To skip a level, press LEFT, LEFT, UP, UP, RIGHT, RIGHT, DOWN, DOWN.

After experiencing a taste of the world of Strawberry Shortcake on the DS, I was curious to see how a 3D platform adventure would turn out.

In The Sweet Dreams Game, Angel Cake, Ginger Snap, Orange Blossom, Raspberry Torte and Lemon Meringue find themselves unable to dream and they turn to Strawberry Shortcake for help. The adventure takes Strawberry all the way to the Dreamland and the Dream Factory to make new dreams for her friends.

The game is basically a 3D side-scrolling platformer with a few racing levels in between. In the platform levels, Strawberry Shortcake can run, jump onto fluffy cushions and soft clouds, collect power-ups and seeds, and use her special dream powers to help her with certain environmental obstacles.

Strawberry has four different dreams to use. The watering can creates a strawberry plant with two leaves that can be used as platforms to reach higher grounds. The magic wand dream gets rid of pesky enemies and berry vines to reveal objects. The butterfly dream gives Strawberry wings to float for a while and reach platforms that are too far away to jump to. Last but not least, there is the strawberry dream, which creates a heavy strawberry that can be used to press switches. To swap between dreams according to situations, you use the right trigger. If at times you seem stuck, that usually means you have to use a dream, so look around and see what can be done.

There are also a few rainbow-making stages where you have to move around the stage collecting the diamonds that compose the rainbow and avoid the stormy nightmare clouds.

The platform levels are very colorful and well designed. There isn't really a way to get lost since there's usually only one way to go. Everything runs very smoothly, except when you approach a bubble maker or a smoke exhaust, that's when the frame rate slows down quite a bit until you pass that obstacle.

The racing levels are a lot of fun. You can sail a ship, fly on the back of a butterfly or drive a car. The vehicle will be constantly moving and you have to dodge obstacles, collect seeds and reach the goal before the timer runs out.

Seeds can be traded in the Fantasy Garden. If you have enough seeds, you can plant a giant flower in the appropriate spots in the garden, and at the top there will be a little gift box with a bonus. You can unlock videos, songs and more characters. There are five characters to unlock: Angel Cake, Ginger Snap, Orange Blossom, Raspberry Torte and Lemon Meringue. Once you unlock a character, you are given the option at the beginning of a level to pick who you want to play as. Obtaining all the collectibles should keep little gamers busy for quite a while.

The game is a graphic delight, everything is very cute, crisp and well defined, and I was particularly fond of the fluffy cloud platforms and the soap bubbles. It looks extremely detailed and vibrant in high definition, but I am also thinking that may be what made me dizzy after roughly 45 minutes of gameplay, the way Neopets the Darkest Faerie did but not as bad.

The sounds, music and voice acting (the girls sound oh so adorable) are very well done and the gameplay is fairly easy for young girls to grasp.

In all its cuteness, The Sweet Dreams Game has a few little flaws. For example, while a few stages are fairly short (the rainbow making), others are fairly long, and younger gamers might find this tiresome. There are no checkpoints nor saving until you complete a stage, so you're forced to go through it or abandon your progress. A checkpoint system would have worked wonders for the stages where you have to collect keys to open gates, or stars to make a whirlwind more powerful so you can hop on that really high platform and progress in your adventure.

One particular problem was trying to hop on the first leaf of the strawberry plant that we create with the watering can dream. Many times it just seemed like Strawberry couldn't jump that high. In those occasions, the plant would fade before I got to the second leaf, but fortunately there are plenty of dream clouds around to fill up the dream meter and try again.

The last quirk I have with the game is in the ship racing stage, where the ship itself blocks your view of the obstacles ahead.

But these three issues aside, Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Game is a charming and entertaining adventure for little girls everywhere. And it's really refreshing to see more companies reaching out to little girl gamers more often without relying solely on fashion and makeup games.

Special thanks to Damien Sarrazin and The Game Factory for providing a copy of this title.