My Friend Peppa Pig is Outright’s next kid-friendly game this holiday season, and this Petoons Studio-developed game is different from the norm of easy to play platformers we’ve seen earlier. It’s out now for all major consoles and PCs, and here’s what we thought.
We actually saw and played My Friend Peppa Pig earlier during Outright Unwrapped, where it was the standout game of the event for us. The full version makes an equally strong impression when you first boot it up, as it’s hard to discern the game from the TV show – the visual style and all the characters look exactly like what children know and love already, so there are high marks for that.
And not only does My Friend Peppa Pig look like the cartoon, it actually plays like it as well, but kids go through a character creator first. As you’d expect it’s not the most complex or multi-layers tool out there, but kids will have a lot of fun picking their own gender, the color of their clothes, an animal and even a hat. See, you’re not actually playing as Peppa, but rather her new friend that she goes on adventures with.
Once the game starts, you’ll quickly run into familiar characters from the show, from Peppa and her immediately family to characters like Madame Gazelle and Miss Rabbit. We believe they’re voiced by some of the real voice actors from the show as well, but because different actors have played certain roles over the years some of the voices sounded “off” – which may just be a result of whichever season of Peppa you last watched.
My Friend Peppa Pig is structured like an open-ended episode of the show, where the player is entirely free to move around and interact with different scenes and characters. There’s no end goal, and no set narrative. The controls are incredibly easy (you move around with the thumbstick and press a button to interact), and with no UI in sight it really could be mistaken for the TV show at first glance.
We’ve seen the game described as an “open world” title before, but because those are almost always full of objectives and missions it feels like “interactive sandbox” is a more accurate description. For better and for worse, because although kids are free to follow up or ignore on-screen prompts and comments from other characters, they’ll eventually run out of new things to do because you’re not handed a terribly large “toolbox” to begin with – those tools being the interactive spots you’ll encounter in the game’s various locations. There are under ten to visit and explore, so this is a game for the young non-discerning gamer who doesn’t mind watching the same episodes of a streaming show over and over again.
That’s actually quite perfect for the intended audience though, which we’d put at 3 to 5 year olds. They won’t mind “jumping in muddy puddles” over and over again with the simple press of a button, and won’t care that there’s no grand narrative-driven reason for doing so. For them, interacting with Peppa’s world and its familiar locations, characters and activities will be more than enough.
Look under the hood though, and you’ll see some shortcoming in My Friend Peppa’s gameplay design and technical performance. To start with the latter – while the game looks gorgeous and really takes young gamers to the world of Peppa, in what’s no doubt the more accurate looking videogame take on a children’s show yet, frequent load times (when switching between locations) mess with the flow of the game.
Gameplay-wise, what starts out as a dynamic experience where the game seems to react to what you do (Peppa will tell you that “standing still is boring” as she urges you to move) quickly becomes a game that repeats itself often. This is true because of the limited amount of interactivity mentioned above, but the game also frequently switches to short cutscenes. That wouldn’t be so bad it this was a narrative-driven game where they served a purpose, but these moments keep popping up and never change. I don’t need a character to keep introducing himself to me when it’s the 100th time I’ve seen him. With little effort, the banter could have been made far more dynamic and surprising, which is a missed opportunity.
Little touches like that would also have added greatly to My Friend Peppa’s lasting appeal. We have no issue with the open structure of the game, and actually think it’s wonderful for the target group that can play the game exactly the way they want. It’s just that we feel there was more potential for it than has been realized here, especially when you consider how beautifully done the visuals are.
But while there’s plenty of untapped potential here, young Peppa fans will absolutely have a blast with this one. Adults might wonder why and might (like us) think about how it could have been a better experience, but for the target group it’s delightful to be able to explore Peppa’s world this way. They won’t realize it could have been better, but ignorance sometimes really is bliss.