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Flips: Enid Blyton's Adventure Series is a "game" using the Adventure novels written by the legendary Enid Blyton. I was a huge fan of Blyton's books as a child, with the adventure series being among my favourites - The Island of Adventure, The Valley of Adventure...you get the idea. So when I discovered I could get the books on DS with games added in, I thought here was a chance to nostalgically read some great books.
The game includes all eight adventure books, all fully readable. It's really easy to get going, just slot the cartridge into the DS, turn it round so you're holding it like a book and get stuck in. You have a choice of which book to read, and they are displayed in order on the menu screen, which is helpful.
The controls are very easy. You use the stylus to tap the menu options that you want to select, and you can use the stylus or the arrow keys to turn pages. Personally I find the arrow keys easier, as it saves me having to hold onto the stylus as I read.
It's worth having a quick look at the instructions, as they explain how to access the in-book menus. Other than that it is incredibly straightforward.
The adventure stories are about four children, Phillip, Jack, Lucy-Ann and Dinah, and Jack's parrot Kiki, who always seem to find some sort of adventure everywhere they go, much like many of Blyton's young heroes.
The books are not quite as good as I remember them, but then an 8 year olds perspective on a children's book is going to differ from a 27 year olds view. They come across as a little contrived, but I still enjoyed rereading a part of my childhood and remembering how I wanted to be like the children in the stories, finding mysteries and exploring new places.
Reading the books was the main reason I bought Flips, but I was also interested in the puzzles I expected. In this aspect however, the "game" is a let-down. As you read through the books you can use the stylus to tap on highlighted words and you get a relevant sound - laughter or the parrot screeching for example. The sounds are not good quality, and a bit annoying, so I stopped doing that once the short-lived novelty had worn off. I also wanted to turn the sound off completely as there is an irritating rustling sound when you turn a page; as the pages do not contain a lot of text, due to the size of the DS screen, there are a lot of pages and a lot of page turns.
Another feature was that for some characters you can view a portrait of them as you read through the text. None of the portraits were very good, and didn't add a lot to the story. As a child I always built my own image of what the characters and places looked like, and I'd rather stick with that. There is also the occasional picture of a scene interspersed through the books, which are slightly better.
The games consist of collecting jigsaw pieces at the end of most chapters, and also answering short quizzes at intervals through the books - answering correctly will award you another jigsaw piece. You can't start the jigsaw until you have all the pieces. They are pictures of scenes from the book you are reading. For some reason I managed to miss some pieces, which is frustrating and I don't quite know how I managed.
So the added extras don't really add up to much at all. The main attraction of Flips is that you get all eight adventure books on your DS. Younger children may enjoy the added extras, but they are very much sidelines to the reading.
I expected a little more from Flips in terms of added puzzles, but the quality of the books is still there. I think this would be a great way to get children to read Enid Blyton - they are slightly more noticeably old-fashioned than they were 20 years ago, but they are still great stories.