AGH Atari 2600 Review:

by Parker Brothers

Strawberry Shortcake
During the latter (pre-crash latter) days of the 2600's life, companies expanded the system's software repetoire by offering games for youngers. Parker Brothers took it one step further with Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-Ups, a game designed for girls. But did it successfuly bridge the gap between the often dry educational game fare and the just-for-fun formats?

The object here is to put the bodily sections of each character together in the proper way, resulting in a tuneful salute of success. Mismatching the identities results in a mish-mash of musical segments from the individual tunes. The child selects a head, a body, and legs that she believes are appropriate for each character. All characters are similar, but none are dressed alike.

Action consists merely of using the joystick to make selections of body parts that belong together. There are six different levels to the game: one berry, two berry, three berry, and so on. At the beginning of each level, a mixed-up character appears on the screen. Moving the joystick up and down and a vertical indicator line will also moe up and down on the screen by the side of the character. This indicates the part you are trying to find. Then move the joystick left and right to see each of the choices for that particular part of the body. When the selection has been made that you think is correct, press the red button. The differing levels offer the player her choice of simple or more complex mix-ups, timed or untimed action, and degrees of speed. The child is exposed to matching situations requiring both auditory (music) and visual (names) recognition. She is also exposed to the basic rudements of using a video game controller.

Strawberry Shortcake Pic 2
The element of sound is incorporated most effectively in this game, in which sound and visuals work together for the benefit of the player. This game has very good sound treatment that's quite sophisticated as well. Activision's Dolphin also is one of the rare exceptions, where programs with sophisticated clues to game play are the exception than the rule in classic videogaming.

The graphics are also very nicely done, and character definition is exquisite. Strawberry and her friends (as well as her enemy, Purple Pieman) are distinctively outfitted. Each one stands in the center of a large pink gazebo. Green hills surround. A blue sky and bright yellow sun (also a timer in this game) appear overhead. In timed games, the sun moves across the sky, indicating time elapsed and time to go. When a game is the upper levels of difficulty is over because incorrect choices have been made, the sky turns dark and the characters will appear, one at a time, on the screen.

I'm not a child any more (although my wife would beg to differ), and I'm certainly not a female player. That said, I think Parker Brothers did a gret job on this game. In fact, even some of the more -- ahem -- "mature" gamers had to work awhile at getting the characters together. Overall, kids will probably love it, and it was about time that there was such a game for just such an audience.

Title Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-Ups
Publisher Parker Brothers
System Atari 2600 (VCS)
Graphics 7
Sound 5
Gameplay 5
Overall 6
Reviewer Keita Iida

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