capsule review

Teddy Factory

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Toybox Games’ Teddy Factory —sold for the Mac by —puts you on the assembly line of a factory that makes teddy bears. It’s cute, it’s adorable, and it’s a heck of a lot more challenging that it looks at first glance.

It’s your first day on the assembly line, and you have to piece together parts of variously colored teddy bears as they come down the assembly line. The assembly line twists and turns as new parts—heads, torsos, legs and arms —are spit out of a teddy-bear-making machine. Clicking on each part lets you piece them together.

In Quest mode, you’re working your way up the corporate ladder through a series of levels, each with goals (make this many bears, for example). You start your life as a lowly assembly line worker and eventually wend your way through middle and upper management.

As you make your bears, a robotic claw will pick up the completed teddies and drop them into boxes awaiting shipment. But you’ll also see kids on screen with specific requests—a green bear, for example, or a purple one, or a pink one—and it’s up to you to meet their needs in the time allotted. Do so, and you’ll be awarded extra points. Don’t do it, and it’ll be counted against you at the end of the round. The kids have short attention spans, alas—yellow highlights around their dialog bubbles (graphically showing you which bear they’ve requested) gradually dissipate —if they reach the end, then the child will walk away broken-hearted that the Teddy Factory wasn’t able to fill their order.

Managing to create enough bears in a short enough period of time and failing to disappoint any kids will increase your chances of early promotion and collecting additional awards between levels.

The assembly line doesn’t churn out an even amount of every bear, though, so sometimes you have to partly assemble one color bear while working on another. You must leave enough room on your assembly line so the bear parts don’t reach the end—if they do, it’s game over time.

With each level, the assembly line changes its shape, speed and the colors of bears it produces. Before too long, it’s quite a logistical effort to put together bears and ship them out before parts hit the end of the line (and the end of the game).

There’s also a “Survival” mode, which is the Teddy Bear equivalent to that classic I Love Lucy episode where Lucy is on the chocolate factory assembly line. The Teddy Factory assembly line just cranks faster and faster as you keep making up bears; unfortunately, unlike Lucille Ball, you can’t eat the bear parts or stuff them in your dress to cover for slow assembly.

The Trophy Room is an area of the game where you can keep special bears that you’ve assembled. Every so often, amidst the myriad supply of mundane brown, green, purple, pink, blue and other-colored bear parts, you’ll see special ones like a panda, piggy or Elvis-styled bear. Put those together before the end of the level and you’ll get that Trophy Bear as a permanent memento to add to your collection.

Ultimately, Teddy Factory’s Quest mode plays like a variation on two other time-tested action puzzle game favorites. The actual assembly line manufacturing reminds me a bit of Zuma-style games like Luxor and Atlantis, while the need to fill the requirements of kid customers in a limited amount of time plays out a bit like Diner Dash, without the table-waiting part.

Teddy Factory’s cute soundtrack sets the theme with a toe-tapping ’50s/’60s loungey groove, but it’s on a pretty short loop and gets repetitive quickly. Graphics are good quality and very, very cute. Options include the ability to toggle full screen and windowed mode and automatically pause if the game is clicked away from—helpful if you’re playing Teddy Factory in between conference calls or on the train.

There are multiple difficulty settings and 45 levels of play here. Positive production values aside, I’m not really sure there’s $20 worth of gameplay. You can decide for yourself by downloading the time-limited demo version.

Toybox uses Macromedia’s Director as its development platform of choice. The app is well-behaved but it’s also a PowerPC binary—there’s no Universal Binary, offering native support for Intel-based Macs. Having said that, it’s not particularly taxing to system resources and ran just fine in Rosetta on an Intel iMac.

Up to five players can save their progress and return at any time to pick up where they left off.

The bottom line

Working on an assembly line may not sound like fun—especially if you’ve ever done it for a living—but Teddy Factory manages to create a new twist on the action puzzle genre that’s worth checking out.

It’s no teddy bear picnic Teddy Factory requires you to piece together different bears to meet the requests of demanding children.
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