Friday, November 29, 2013

Review - Barbie Dreamhouse Party

  • 1:00 - Gameplay
  • 2:05 - Pros
  • 3:25 - Cons
  • 5:55 - Final Thoughts

In this episode, I have just finished a complete game of Barbie Dreamhouse Party on Steam. There's also a version for the WiiU which, to my knowledge, is an identical game.

In total, I have played for two hours and before we begin, I am judging this game not on it's themes -- which are all about girlie Kardashian stuff that I don't understand -- but rather on it's quality as a video game. I have no way to know if a green emerald belt goes with a denim skirt.

In this series, you never have to wait for my opinion: Barbie Dreamhouse Party may be a fun game for kids that you only see every once in a while, but has no longevity if you're buying it for a child of your own.

Is it right for you? Well let's find out.

Gameplay

To begin, Barbie Dreamhouse Party is a 3D party game consisting of nine minigames.

The plot of the game revolves around you -- playing as Barbie -- and three of Barbie's girlfriends at a get-together in the Dreamhouse. When one of the girls "accidentally" activates the home's security system, the entire house goes into lockdown and a robot that looks a lot like GLaDOS -- the antagonist from Portal -- comes and gives the girls challenges to unlock each of the rooms one-by-one.

In each room, you work together with your girlfriends to search the room looking for missing accessories and photographs. Once they are all found, you must then play against each other in a minigame. The winner of the minigame is given points and whoever has the most points at the end of the nine minigames is the winner.

The game was developed by Torus Games. Based in Australia, they specialize in branded titles, having just released games for movie titles like The Croods, Rise of the Guardians, and Madagascar 3.

Pros

  • Point blank: the minigames are fun and challenging. I enjoyed each of them and there's a nice variety of matchmaking, memory, and skill games.
  • I would suggest that the AI actually fights to beat you, so at least in that regard this game isn't patronizing.
  • There's a photo wall that consists of photographs you find while wondering about your house showing you and your girlfriends having fun. The photo wall is a great mechanic and a contribution to the longevity of the game, as you might want to play multiple times to collect all the photos.
  • The music is great. It's very peppy and something that young women would respond to.
  • The NPCs are interviewed after the minigames, during which they talk about things like "probiotic french vanilla yogurt", which is actually something I wasn't expecting. I like games that make young girls ask questions about the world around them.

Cons

  • Number one complaint -- this game is short. I beat it in two hours. Now, you may say that I'm a video game veteran and the game is geared toward little kids. I'm not saying that the game is easy, I'm saying that the game only has nine mini-games, so after two hours you most certainly have played the entire game. It's not like you can play the game over again and maybe unlock some of the other minigames. That's it. Nine mini-games.
  • As simple as this game is, there is a situation where sometimes your NPC girlfriends glitch out during the accessory-collection missions and stand around holding their accessory instead of putting it on the pedestal like they're supposed to. If you bump into them, they'll start moving again.
  • Barbie has one white, one black, and one Hispanic friend. The voice actress for Raquel the Hispanic friend does fine as a voice actress, but I'm pretty sure she's not Hispanic.
  • This game needs a difficulty selection. Beginner, medium, and difficult would really make this game customizable for the vastly different age ranges they're looking to cover.
  • There are dozens of outfits to choose from, but the NPC girlfriends are programmed to wear the same stuff and often are displayed wearing the same exact outfits. I'm not a woman, but the one thing I know to be true is that in America, wearing the same outfit as your girlfriend is a bad thing no matter who you are.
  • There are four doors in the mansion. One allows you to start the game and a second allows you to practice the mini-games after you unlock them. The final two doors show you the options and the credits -- and neither are worthy of their own room.

Final Thoughts

A party game is supposed to have a vast variety of mini-games so that every time you play there's something different for you to experience. The gameplay -- even though the mini-games are familiar -- is unique because you don't know which mini-games are coming until they happen.

This game fails in that regard and doesn't have enough of anything else to warrant attention.

Regardless of how you feel about encouraging Kardashianism in our youth, the game itself is fun but brief. If you hope to entertain your child for longer than an afternoon, consider instead buying actual Barbies for the same price and let their imaginations do the work that Torus Games did not.


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