The number of platformers released that have come and gone on the various consoles is nearly countless. If any one genre is synonymous with video games, it'd probably be the platformer. As is the case with a large sampling of games from any genre, platformers have ranged from extremely poor to masterful. Despite being sound in many respects, 40 Winks ends up falling squarely in the former category. It fails to rise above mediocrity due to its utter lack of challenge, its ultracute tone (which severely limits its appeal), and its oversimplified gameplay.
It's bedtime one evening for Ruff and Tumble, and they aren't pleased. They think bedtime is boring. Their mother tells them about the little creatures called Winks that sleep during the day and come out at night when everyone is asleep and dreaming. There's a problem though. A grumpy old man named NiteKap - who's so tired that he can't sleep - has decided to kidnap the Winks and turn them into Hood-Winks. These Hood-Winks are responsible for the nightmares of people everywhere. Only 40 Winks remain in the land of dreams, and it's up to Ruff and Tumble to make sure NiteKap doesn't get his hands on them.
That premise alone is enough to keep a large segment of the video-game-playing populace away from this title. The game begins in Ruff and Tumble's room, where you can access every stage in the game. Different doors in their home lead to the different stages. If you elect at any time to exit a game without having reached a save point, the house is where you'll be taken to, so in that sense it serves as a sort of hub throughout the game.
The game's graphics are definitely one of its high points. It's obvious that Eurocom spent a significant amount of time making sure the visuals were top-notch. The various characters animate quite nicely, and all the environments - which range from a forest on a stormy night to a pirate's cove to the moon - are all vibrant, lush, and full of detail. However, the stages just aren't big and lengthy enough, so unless you intentionally slow yourself down, you won't really have much time to enjoy what is nice about each area. Ruff and Tumble - as well as the multitude of enemy creatures - animate quite nicely, and there are really no clipping, draw-in, or texture problems to speak of.
The sound, however, isn't nearly as appealing. In keeping with the game's ultracute tone, both the music and the sound effects are of the high-pitched and supersweet variety. Think back to your kindergarten and early elementary school days and remember the songs you sung in class. That's pretty close to what you get in 40 Winks in terms of music and sound effects.
Perhaps the game's most glaring shortcoming is its gameplay. Even though it's evident that this game is targeted at a very young audience, it would be nice to think that America's youth can handle games with mildly complex gameplay. Both Ruff and Tumble have approximately three moves - a general attack, a butt-stomp attack, and a scream attack. In addition to collecting Winks, you've got to gather Zs, Cogs, Moons, Dreamkeys, and tokens. Zs represent the life remaining in your life bar. Each time you get hit you'll lose a few Zs. Once you lose all your Zs and you're out of lives, you wake up and the game is over. The Cogs allow you to open various locked doors throughout each stage, and the number of Cogs required to open each locked door varies. Moons are what allow you to perform your scream attack - your only long-range weapon. Run out of Moons and you're limited to close-quarters combat. Dreamkeys are what you've got to collect in order to gain access to subsequent levels. Lastly, there are two types of tokens - R tokens and T tokens. Ruff collects the R tokens and Tumble collects the T tokens. If you manage to get ten tokens you earn an extra life.
The most interesting aspect of the gameplay by far is the ability to temporarily transform into different forms. Throughout each stage are little jack-in-the-boxes that, when jumped into, transform your character into a different character for about a minute. These different characters include a ninja and a muscular caveman, both of which have slightly different attacks than Ruff and Tumble.
Ultimately, 40 Winks is simply too cute and saccharin. Playing this game as an adult is akin to pouring a pound of sugar in your mouth. It's that juvenile and cute. The tone hurts the game enough and limits its potential appeal to a significant extent, but when you couple that with the extremely basic gameplay, the small stages, the average (at best) sound, and the generic characters, what you're left with is a game that's really only a good purchase for a very young child. 40 Winks might be a good purchase for a parent with a 6- to 10-year-old who's just starting to play video games, but other than that, anyone looking for a quality platformer should look elsewhere.