- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

An award-winning superhero from the world of PC edutainment makes his debut on Nintendo’s Wii entertainment console in Pajama Sam: Don’t Fear the Dark (Majesco Entertainment, for Wii, $29.99).

Humongous Entertainment created this beautiful cartoony adventure in 1996 and its simple storytelling and click-and-find interactivity make it a timeless classic perfect for today’s 6-year-old Wii player.

In the story, a youngster named Sam tries to conquer his fear of the dark by finding and capturing the villainous fellow in charge, Darkness.

From his bedroom, Sam first looks around to find his gear - a mask, flashlight and portable bad guy containment unit (which looks suspiciously like a lunch box) - before entering his bedroom closet, also a portal to the Land of Darkness

Instead of the clunky mouse and keyboard commands used in the original, the wireless Wiimote orchestrates exploration through pointing and clicking around colorful areas. Arrows appear to help guide the player as he finds plenty of animated cut scenes, objects to complete tasks and multitiered missions for his ultimate faceoff with Darkness.

For example, as the player moves from locations such as a lava mine, boat dock and the villain’s impressive mansion, he might have to mix up a formula to become invisible, find a key to open a door or acquire a disguise to sneak past some pompous foliage.

Within each scene, there are at least a dozen hot spots to click that deliver some silly action and guarantee to hold a player’s interest and deliver a smile.

Additionally, found with this type of adventure are an eclectic selection of characters that talk to Sam and help him through some of his missions. The lineup includes a lactose intolerant tree, a boat afraid to get into water, a talking mine car and a singing stove.

Along the journey, Sam must not only recover his mask, flashlight and lunch box to face his nemesis, but he also must find 10 pairs of socks that have fallen into Darkness (a common problem in my household).

Learning time: Some of the simpler disciplines needed for learning, such as memorization, reasoning and following directions are reinforced. The action did sneak in some pure educational moments, including a very funny dissertation on the principles and history of geysers with the disclaimer “gratuitous educational content” prominently displayed.

Better yet, a faux game show hosted by the wooden Wink and Blink give players a bit of intelligence as they attempt to get through the Doors of Knowledge. Sam must answer four multiple choice questions that tackle a wide variety of topics ranging from history, anatomy and ancient Egypt to art and fruit.

Age range: A sophisticated preschooler will be giddy at the depth of the action, wonderful cartoon segments and abundance of clickable areas. Casually observing family members will get a kick out of the humor, obviously designed to tickle the funny bone of old and young.

Final advice: Pajama Sam has not lost his cartoon charm over the last decade and the young hero delivers a great-looking and amusing adventure for a new generation of gamers.

Game Bytes

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:

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