You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
Zubo is a DS exclusive RPG/adventure game from EA. You arrive on Zubalon, a strange planet where the inhabitants, known as the Zubos, are in danger. Your adventure will take you across 10 lands, battling evil Zombos and recruiting up to 55 Zubos along the way.
Zubo is entirely stylus controlled, with all movement and interaction carried out by tapping or moving the stylus on the bottom screen. Along the way you'll recruit Zubos to fight against the evil Zombos (fake Zubos) in what is similar to a classic Japanese RPG. Fighting is turn based, with you choosing your character and attack, before tapping the screen in time with an outline that shrinks to draw a line around your Zubo - hit the screen in time in succession and you'll perform the move to its maximum ability and give you a chance of performing a second attack.
For a kids game, the RPG elements are surprisingly deep, although many of the complexities are kept behind the scenes. For example, you'll level up your characters and earn power pills that allow you to perform more complex moves, but this isn't nearly as complex as it sounds. Different characters also fall into one of three classes (Fighter, Performer and Defender), with each better suited to fight another class. But again, the game shows you who's best in each situation, so you don't have to know the ins and outs of the game.
Zubo is an original game from EA and the lack of license that kids recognise won't do it any favours. Having said that, the Zubos are fun characters and the world is well created and full of colour. Kids wanting a bit more depth to their games, perhaps after having grown out of more basic adventures, will find this is a good intro to the RPG genre. A slight disappointment is that two copies of the game are needed for multiplayer, but considering you're pitting your squad against theirs, single card play might have been troublesome.
The top screen is used to display an easy to follow map and all menus and text are easy to read. All important information can also be looked at again via the game's menu, so you shouldn't come unstuck because you missed out on some vital info.
For a DS game the 3D modelling is solid, the game worlds are impressive and the battle animations are fun - with plenty of stuff going on that goes far beyond a few kicks and punches. The music is also pretty good, with an annoyingly catchy jingle playing after each fight. Attacks are also best performed in time with the music, which is a nice touch and gives battles a more lively feel and pace.
Anything for adults?
Although Zubo is an RPG it's a very basic one. If you've never played something like Final Fantasy before then this might serve as a solid entry point, but for most adults it'll prove to be a little too twee and far too simple.
Kids games often get churned out without much thought, but Zubo is very different. This is an extremely solid RPG for beginners that only really suffers because it's something kids won't be familiar with. Had this been attached to a recognisable cartoon we'd be looking at one of the best children's games of the year.