Babysitting is a common way for teens to earn a little cash on the side, and Stacy Wilson is no different. The high school student is saving up for a telescope (she’s a bit of a science geek), and figures that looking after other peoples’ kids is her ticket to the stars. That’s the premise behind Babysitting Mania, a new time management game from the makers of Nanny Mania.
Much like the overworked nanny in Nanny Mania, Stacy has to earn every dollar of her pay – not only will she have to look after kids who might be bored, hyped up on sugar or simply looking to cause mischief, but she’s also expected to clean up the house and make sure everything is spotless before the parents come home. (I sure hope they’re paying her more than 8 bucks an hour.)
The basics of the game will be familiar to anyone who’s played Nanny Mania. Each house Stacy visits is viewed from a top-down perspective that shows various rooms like the living room, office, bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. Messes that Stacy needs to clean up are highlighted in yellow or red, and when you click on one of the messes with your mouse, she’ll walk over to it and work her magic. Like most games of this type, chaining commands in advance is an essential strategy for winning, and Babysitting Mania lets you chain to your heart’s content with no limits that I encountered.
Sound simple? If only it were. You see, while Stacy’s cleaning, the kids she’s supposed to be looking after are roaming around the house making new messes wherever they go. Also, some messes involve more than one step to clean, such as gathering up dirty laundry, washing and drying it, then putting it away in a dresser, changing the baby’s diaper and putting the dirty one in the garbage, and heating up the baby’s bottle.
If Stacy can stay on top of the messes and get the house looking spotless, it will finally be the kids’ bedtime. All she has to do is escort them to bed to complete her work for the day. If she manages to get the kids snuggled into bed before their parents come home (by clicking on them and bringing them over to their beds), the level is complete.
There are 20 different houses for Stacy to visit, with more than 100 levels in total, meaning that you certainly get your money’s worth with Babysitting Mania in terms of length. What’s more, each house has a different layout and size, which is an improvement over Nanny Mania where all the levels took place in the same old house.
Babysitting Mania brings a few other new twists to the table as well. On top of the regular levels, there are also special Birthday Party levels where Stacy has to supervise a whole herd of children and stay on her toes even more than usual. My favourite new feature is the ability to give children a "time out," where if you click on them they’ll sit down and won’t move for a few precious seconds.
While Babysitting Mania is definitely an improvement over Nanny Mania, the game’s biggest flaw is still the fact that it can get very repetitive. Once you’ve zeroed in on the correct strategy to use, it’s quite easy to get a Perfect score consistently, and the levels can start to become a bit of a grind.
The game is still fun though, especially if you have a fondness for kids and a high tolerance for all of the mischief they like to cause. If you’re not sure, go ahead and download the demo – it’s free!