We first met Carrie as she bustled around nurseries looking after babies in Carrie the Caregiver. The former nurse is back for more in Carrie the Caregiver 2, but now she’s set her sights on running a classroom of toddlers as she trains to become a teacher. The good news is that Carrie 2 isn’t just a sequel that maintains the status quo; instead, it breaks new ground and expands the franchise in a positive new direction.
The first major departure you’ll see in Carrie the Caregiver 2 is that its 75 levels are split into 5 different activities that Carrie does with the children (painting, shapes, lunch, name writing and cookie baking), which is a sure way of keeping gameplay fresh up to the very end.
Each activity features a different variation on time management gameplay, but the overall goal is the same: achieve a certain score by the end of the day by keeping the children happy. In painting, for example, Carrie must match each arriving child to an unoccupied easel, give them a paintbrush, then fill a tray with the color of paint that they ask for and bring it to them. When they’re done, Carrie must clean up the mess and hang the finished painting on the wall.
After passing all of the painting levels, you’ll move on to a shapes activity, where children ask for blocks of different shapes and colors that they fit into a tray. Then it’s lunch time, where Carrie must heat up food for each child, give them a drink when they’re thirsty and wipe their face when they’ve finished. In the afternoon, Carrie helps the children practice writing their names by giving them markers and stampes. The final activity of the day is cookie baking, where Carrie takes plates of cookie dough to the children, brings the appropriate color of sprinkles, bakes the cookies in the oven, then hands out the finished treats.
Carrie can hold multiple objects at a time, and also gets bonuses for chaining commands together. Color is also an important part of the game. You’ll get a bonus multiplier each time you seat children at the same color desk, easel or table as their shirt. Children will also ask for paint, sprinkles, blocks and so on in a certain color. This is a nice touch overall but occasionally seems forced, like when you have to match colors on containers of food – is any child really that picky that he’ll only eat out of a red bowl?
Anyone who’s been on an airplane or bus with little kids knows how unpredictable they can be, and Carrie’s charges are no different. They’ll periodically fall asleep or forget what they’re supposed to be doing and will need a little nudge of encouragement from Carrie. They might also drop things like their paintbrush or drink and need Carrie to bring them a replacement, or get the sniffles and need Carrie to grab a tissue from the shelf and wipe their nose.
There are five different types of toddler with distinct personalities: red-heads, for example, are impatient and prone to tantrums, while blonds are more laid back. The children have a certain number of hearts that they’ll lose if Carrie doesn’t see to their needs quickly enough. To keep the children occupied while waiting to start them on an activity, Carrie can give them a chair, teddy bear or book to briefly hold their attention; she can also play her guitar to soothe all the children in line.
Carrie will soon tire herself out with all the running around, but you can renew her depleted energy meter by standing still or grabbing a snack from Grettle. Carrie can also grab rollerskates that give her a temporary boost of speed.
Carrie will receive upgrades to her classroom throughout the course of the game, such as extra ovens and dough dispensers in the cookie baking levels. There are also three score targets to shoot for in Carrie 2, unlike the usual two (Goal, Advanced, and Expert).
In between challenges, Carrie can play mini-games on her cell phone including a memory matching game, a sound-based memory game, unscramble the picture, and a version of whack-a-mole.
While the gameplay in Carrie 2 is a drastic leap forward, it’s also the small touches that elevate the game – like the fact that you see the children draw their paintings or write out their names in real-time in the color they have chosen, and the cute way the kids giggle and say thank you to Carrie, or mutter “oops” when they drop something. On top of wonderful visuals, there’s also a great soundtrack that features soothing vocals and even cleverly incorporates that quintessential school instrument: the recorder. Like the first game, Carrie also writes her thoughts in her blog for you to read, which gives the game an ongoing story.
Carrie the Caregiver 2 has all the hallmarks of a good sequel. Like Carrie herself, who has started the next phase of her career, the game shows growth and improvement in all the important areas while losing none of the charm and fun of the original.