When a new toy hits it big everyone wants one. Two years ago, there was a rush on cute mechanized hamsters, called Zhu Zhu Pets. This past Christmas all the rage was about cute little hermit crabs, called Xia Xia’s, which had customizable shells. Building off that popularity, Game Mill has brought young gamers the DS platformer, Xia Xia, based on the imaginary world these little crabs live in.
There was a time, not too long ago, when I knew what all the hot new toys were. Recently though, toy trends come and go so fast it is hard to keep up. As such, until last Christmas I had no idea what a Xia Xia even was. I understand the Pillow Pet phenomenon, after all kids love stuffed animals and one that transforms into a pillow is cool. But toy hermit crabs? Really, kids think this is cool?
As a father of little girls and as a reviewer of video games, my inability to understand why little girls would like brightly colored toy hermit crabs is something that makes it hard for me to relate to the primary draw of the game. However, as someone who grew up playing the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog, I can relate to the core mechanics of the game as a platformer and Xia Xia is a platformer.
In fact, Xia Xia is a very simplistic platformer, obviously designed with the core audience of the toy in mind. The main goal of the game is to traverse each level searching for lost hermit crabs. Finding these crabs unlocks additional levels with some levels needing to be traversed multiple times in order to advance. Even so, the core game can be completed in less than two hours.
None of this posed any sort of challenge to me as there is seemingly no fail state and aside from some simple platforming puzzles, the game is pretty straight forward. Xia Xia will most likely not engage any adult gamers that give it a try although it could be far worse in its design and implementation. That said Black Lantern Studios is obviously not targeting lifelong gamers like myself for Xia Xia, but rather little girls that might want to own a plastic hermit crab.
2 / 5
There is a rule in my house, if you see it on television you cannot have it, so my wife and I were lucky enough to escape the Xia Xia toy phenomenon. Despite this fact, when I asked my eight year old daughter if she wanted to help review the Xia Xia game, she jumped at the opportunity.
Having played some platformers previously, my daughter found it easy enough to jump right in and begin progressing through the game. Early on she had no problems navigating the levels in search of the missing crabs but this changed as the platforming puzzles got slightly harder and on more than one occasion she had to ask for help progressing. This did not diminish her desire to play the game though and over time she even began to figure out the puzzles on her own.
Surprisingly, the one aspect of the game I thought she would enjoy the most, the ability to customize the crabs, was somewhat of a bust for her. Where she spent hours dressing up her pillow pets in the Pillow Pets game, she had very little desire to change the shells of her hermit crabs. When pushed as to why, she said she just didn’t feel like it. Eight year old girls, right?
Overall though, Xia Xia was a game that she enjoyed and one that she will probably come back to quite a bit over the next little bit, or at least until the next big craze comes along.
4 / 5
Xia Xia is a competent, if rather simplistic platformer. It is clearly designed for little girls but at the very least, it will not offend adult gamers when their child asks for a little bit of help during the “hard” parts.
- Competent platforming design
- Overly simplistic
- Extremely short
3 / 5