Playmobil Gets into Video Games

The round-headed, noseless faces of Playmobil people have been imagination fodder for several decades’ worth of children. The success of the toy line has been at least in part due to the open-endedness of Playmobil play. There have been no books, movies or TV shows that establish plots and scripts for kids to follow. When they dig into a Playmobil set, children have a detailed world (anything from a modern supermarket to an Egyptian pyramid) in which to let their imagination run wild. So it’s a major step for Playmobil to send their nameless, blank-slate figures into linear video game storylines.

Perhaps the company was inspired by the mega-success of Lego’s venture into video games. So far, happily for the company and its fans, the first round of Playmobil games are a whole lot of fun (and despite the similar lack of noses, they don’t attempt to duplicate the formula or gameplay of the Lego titles). The company’s first release, Playmobil Pirates, for the Nintendo DS, seems to be surprisingly aimed at an older audience than the typical Playmobil fan, especially in terms of its humor, but the game is an enjoyable and intriguing adventure nonetheless. The truly excellent Playmobil Circus for the Wii, on the other hand, is right on target and really is one of those rare games that a whole family can play together. Those first two titles will be joined by Playmobil Knights next week.

Whether this foray into video games enhances the Playmobil brand or spreads it thin remains to be seen. But from the point of view of parent and a gamer, so far so good.

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