Aotearoa

by Matt Wigdahl profile

Children's
2010

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Number of Reviews: 6
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Cute Journey of Empowerment, May 12, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)

Being from Hawaii and having read Whale Rider, "Aotearoa" was on my watch list once I was made aware of its existence. It plays much like "Blue Lacuna" in terms of parsing, so I adapted to the keyword system pretty easily. I like it, and definitely appreciated all the scenery and background information implemented. I mean, even down to a guardrail.

This game was so easy I did not need to resort to hints. There was never a case where I wandered around wondering what Iíd missed. I was also told explicitly what to do and why some solution or other wouldnít work. I really appreciate those sorts of feedback responses, so I know at least Iím on the right track and just need to fix whatever the problem is.

Again, being from Hawaii, I am familiar with Maui and some of the stories about him. I also recognized some words, like "tapu" ("kapu" in Hawaiian), mana (same in Hawaiian), and "taro" ("kalo.") Also, "atua" ("akua.") I appreciated the history and backstory implemented into the menus. Helped to flesh out the game world. And naming the animals was lots of fun. (Spoiler - click to show)Riding the Notoceratops and the scene where weíre staring at each other for magical, spiritually connected moments is something I wonít soon forget. Such a mighty, magnificent creature - deadly but also friendly at the same time. I named mine Boga, because it kind of reminded me of Obi-Wanís battle mount in Star Wars Episode III.

Characterizationís not that deep, but whatís there is very engaging. (Spoiler - click to show)I liked looking at Timís backpack and piecing together his backstory and getting to talk to the captain and Eruera about themselves. Speaking of Eruera, I really liked him. He was a great mentor for Tim and I could see him becoming an adopted dad, since heís got his aunt. Having Tim be the one to help Eruera and having Eruera encourage Tim with stories and tidbits of Maori culture really helped me to bond with him and made me feel empowered. It was also comforting to have an adult there who was calm and practical. The nanakia was cute. I confess I was laughing at the poacher when the nanakia was getting the better of him, and the end sequence being chased by poachers is really well done. Thereís not a move to waste, and a fair amount of ways to die. Adds to the urgency that thereís really no time to try to explore, but itís not exactly a timed puzzle that requires a lot of trial and error. Was rather fun to plow into the jeep and kill the poachers inside. I hope that dinosaur got away and destroyed the place. I think itís implied it did, but we donít see it conclusively.

I highly recommend this game. Good writing, enjoyable characters, and I appreciate that while this is a game that reads like juvenile/young adult fiction, I donít feel excluded or patronized. This sort of thing would probably make an entertaining cartoon. A great effort.