Having Trouble Sleeping? Pick Up 40 Winks
When it came to choosing my least favorite video game, I had plenty of game considerations. I could say Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the GBA, which I hated because of the needlessly complicated solo card game style of the game. I could say Sonic DX: Director's Cut, for its lack of plot and allowing itself to fall back on the addicting cuteness of the Chao Gardens. Or I could say Duke Nukem, for existing. Aside from the latter, however, these are games I came to genuinely enjoy, whether it be for the movement of the plot like KH, or raising small blue blobs like Director's Cut. So no, I could never make them my least favorite game.
One game with few redeeming qualities comes to mind, by the name of 40 Winks. Never heard of it? Don't worry, I can assure you, you didn't miss out on anything but confusion and aggravation.
40 Winks is exclusively a Playstation 1 production. There was a version planning to be released for the Nintendo 64, but was cancelled last minute. This game is, I can only assume, targeting younger kids to get them into gaming. The idea itself is great, unfortunately the game aimed to bring gaming to the younger masses is not. The entire thing is far too childish for any kid old enough to pick up a controller and actually play a game.
Here's the storyline: A set of twins, Ruff and Tumble, are being sent to bed by their mother, and they aren't particularly pleased about it. The mother tells them a bedtime story about Winks, who only appear at night while everyone is asleep. An old insomniac named Nitekap, who looks and acts suspiciously like Ebenezer Scrooge, takes his anger and lack of sleep out on the Winks, capturing them and turning them into Hood-Winks. Hood-Winks are solely responsible for people's nightmares. There are a few Winks left untouched, any guesses on how many? Yup, 40, and it is now the job of these two young kids to protect them from Nitekap.
Before the story line even began, the player was made to choose one of the twins as the play through character. Ruff, a rambunctious boy, and Tumble, a seemingly bright girl. Once they fall asleep, the only one who remains relevant to the storyline is the twin the player chose before the cut scene. When Ruff or Tumble, depending on who was chosen, 'wakes up' in the land of dreams, which is still their house, but now every door leads to a different realm, and in front of all these doors is an alarm clock named Wakey Wakey.
In one of the rooms in the house, he introduces himself, telling Ruff/Tumble his name and how he will hang around to give helpful hints and information when needed. He also instructs the player how to control the character, how to jump and attack, which is great, but a couple of problems arise. Wakey Wakey is in a room that is not mandatory to go into immediately, so it is possible to not get the introduction at all, and just see him randomly throughout levels. The biggest problem I had with the helpful clock is the voice given to him. I don't know the reasoning behind it, but Wakey Wakey's voice sounds like a toy with a dying battery. It's very low and the vocal patterns chosen for the non cut scenes are very much like Animal Crossing.
Wakey Wakey's voice sounds like a toy with a dying battery.
The game itself is almost insultingly simple. There's no real challenge in the game, the levels are pathetically short with no puzzles or anything thought provoking.
There are a couple of things scattered around the level for players to pick up; Zs, dreamkeys, tokens, cogs, and moons. The Zs are the life force, run out of them and Ruff/Tumble will wake up, ending the game. Collect dreamkeys to unlock more levels, and cogs to open locked doors in levels. Tokens can be collected throughout the game as well. Ruff collects tokens with Rs on them, while Tumble collects tokens marked with a T. Collect ten of them and the player can earn an extra life. Lastly, moons allow the use of Ruff/Tumble's scream attack, which is the only long range weapon in the game, so always making sure to have a supply of moons is a pretty good idea.
There are three attacks at the player's disposal; a general, a butt-stomp, and a screaming attack. This makes it boring for kids, and too cutesy for the teens or adults wanting to give it a shot.
You may notice that despite my utter distaste in this game, it has two stars and not one, and that's because like all games it did have a couple of things I felt it deserved credit for. One of those things is the graphics. I know they aren't impressive compared to today's graphics, but one thing to keep in mind is this game was released in 1999. Out of everything I could complain about, graphics are not one of them. Every character moves smoothly, the background is detailed, nothing is choppy in movements or color.
They also got points for having both a male and a female character, both playable as the hero of the game. The ability to choose the gender of the character you play in a game is something I value highly.
Unfortunately, neither the graphics nor the ability to choose could save this game. If you want to start your kid gaming early, start with Pokémon. Start with Spyro. Start with something that isn't 40 Winks.