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The Land Before Time Great Valley Racing Adventure
Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Developer: TDK
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:
The Land Before Time Great Valley Racing Adventure has not only the longest title of any video game I've seen so far, but also some pretty good graphics brought to you on your PlayStation console. The in-game textures are very smooth (some graphic clipping going on), and the cut-scene movies are extremely well rendered. The only problem is that sometimes some of the 'Treestars' that you need to collect blend in and can be hard to see. Playing the game on the PlayStation 2 does seem to slightly improve texture quality, but load times aren't noticeably shorter.

The sound fx in LBT Racing (ahh... much shorter!) are a bit on the weak side, but adequate for this type of game. The music does also get a bit annoying, but will probably hold the attention of the target audience of the game. Something I did like, however, was that within most of the menus, the voice of one of the characters will tell you what is happening. For example, when the screen for saving pops up, the voice tells you exactly what is going on. I can see this as very helpful to younger gamers that may not be able to read quite yet.

LBT Racing's gameplay is pretty basic. In fact, it is very basic. The game is targeted very much so toward young children. There are two real modes of play: Obstacle Course and Racetrack. The single-player Obstacle Courses allow you to run through the courses with different goals in mind (see 'Difficulty' below). All the time you race, you need to avoid the many fallen trees, boulders, swamps, flowing lava and other pitfalls in order to clear the level.

Like the Obstacle Courses, the Racetracks allow you to choose from one of four characters straight from The Land Before Time: Little Foot, Cera, Spike, and Ducky. On the Racetracks, it's you against your opponent. Here you can choose to play against a friend or versus a computer-controlled dino. There are still many hazards to avoid, but the ultimate goal is finishing first. Strangely enough, this isn't all that easy.

In a Crash Bandicoot sort of way, the LBT Racing's screen continues to move forward along the track as you run and the only controls you need to use are those that steer your dinosaur, jump and hit a button for the occasional speed burst. This makes it easy enough for smaller children to get into the action, but steering the dinos is actually harder than it looks.

Believe it or not, a game targeted at such a young crowd is more than just difficult. It may be too hard for kids. I mean, come on. I've been playing games for years and trying to out-race the computer-controlled dinos is very tough. You almost have to have a perfect race to do it. There are also three difficulty settings to choose from when you select a new game. On the Obstacle Courses, you will notice that in Easy, you only need to collect enough Treestars to get a certain score. In Medium, you need to beat the clock. And in Hard, you have a combination of the two.

Controlling your character is a challenge in itself. Over steering is the biggest challenge to overcome. It seems as though you can turn on a dime and miss picking up items rather easily. It's hard to imagine a child of eight being able to do very well in LBT Racing.

Game Mechanics:
As stated above, there really are only three basic controls: steering left-to-right, jumping, and hitting the speed burst button to get your dino moving. The steering is a bit difficult at first and takes some getting used to. The menus of LBT Racing do make up for this a little because there is this ever-so-present voice of one of the dinosaurs when you select items in the menus, helping little ones navigate a little easier.

Land Before Time Racing definitely has a target audience of younger children (probably about 12 and under), and is fully geared toward them. The game does have a good 'cartoony' feel to it, but the difficulty may outweigh this all too much. I would suggest renting before buying. This would be a good way to feel out how well your children can handle it. (Kids are surprising... who knows, they may pick it up with very little effort!?)

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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