Maya The Bee: The Nutty Race in Review: Not Quite So Nutty

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Normally I wouldn’t review a game like this. “What do you mean by that?” you’re probably asking at this point. I have nothing against the genre or anything, but the game was designed for a young audience. Since my “youngest” is a freshman in high school, I don’t really feel that I have a good perspective on games targeted at a younger audience any more. On the other hand, I remember that there were some games designed for the kids that I even enjoyed, so when given the opportunity I check them out once in a while anyway. Besides, I figured with the release of Mario Kart for mobile phones I’d see what a competitor for kids had to offer.

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First of all, while I’ve not tried Mario Kart on my phone yet, I’m pretty sure this is no Kart killer. Again I realize the audience is demographically different, but I just thought I’d throw that out there in case you’re looking for a game to steal away when your kid’s not looking. Which brings me to my ultimate opinion of the game from an adult or parent point of view. If you have kids you might get a kick out of watching over their shoulder as they play it. It’s certainly not a bad game, but it didn’t take long before I lost interest in it, so if you’re really looking for your own race cart fix, you’ll probably want to steer towards Mario Kart instead (see what I did there?)

Okay, now that I have all of that out of the way, let me tell you a bit about the game itself. If you’ve ever played an over the shoulder racing game you’ll feel right at home here. You select one of three courses, pick a racer out of a collection of eight (or let the computer choose a random one for you) and then try to get to first place in the race. The characters are cute, but at the end of the day unless you have a preference based on some familiarity with the TV show the game is based off of, I don’t think it matters which one you choose. The characters don’t seem to impact game play at all. Truthfully, it really doesn’t make a difference which track you select either, because the game will keep cycling through each one unless you hit the replay button to retry the one you were just on or hit the home button to go back to the main menu.

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Game play is simple: use the arrow keys to move left and right, and when you have a power up press the provided button to use it. Power ups include things like temporary speed, flowers that knock racers out of the way, and honey that can slow racers down. And yes, pretty much everything you see power up wise will have this odd Mario Kart vibe to it. The courses are decent enough but feel pretty typical for this sort of game. Ranking in a race is displayed at the end if you got one of the first three places, but is forgotten as soon as you move on to the next race. From that perspective you might find this game more compelling for the kids because it seems to de-emphasize the “you must be number one” slant that most racing games have. If you’re interested in something that keeps track of rankings and such, though, this isn’t going to do much for you.

Visually the game is quite charming, with mostly colorful backgrounds – one of the levels tends to be a bit dark – and cartoony characters that are well rendered. The effects when using power ups help fuel the cartoonish atmosphere, as do the sound effects and upbeat music. The aesthetics are definitely the highlight of the game.

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So here’s where my lack of perspective comes into play. I’m not really sure who the target audience is here, because the game play seems to be simplified so a younger set can handle it, but it seems to me to truly appreciate the style of game would require a slightly older crowd that might get bored by the game’s simple mechanics. In fairness to the game I’m going to leave it at that and not give the game an actual rating, because I’m not sure I can do that based on the game’s intended audience rather than my obviously non-target perspective.

Note: I received a promo code for the purpose of writing this review.

App Summary
Title: Maya The Bee: The Nutty Race Developer: Midnight Pigeon
Current Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req: Android OS 4.4
Price: $2.49 App Size: 66MB

Get it on Google Play

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