REVIEW | Barbie Dreamhouse Party
You read that right, it’s time for a review of a serious gamer’s game – Barbie Dreamhouse Party.
I didn’t choose the thug life. The thug life chose me.
OK, let’s be grown-ups about this Barbie thing. You wouldn’t expect a 32-year-old guy to review a game about Barbie, but if you’re reading this, odds are the game isn’t for you. Maybe it’s for your daughter, or niece, or little sister, or maybe it is for you. Who am I to judge? I like Sailor Moon. Yeah, I said it. (Back me up, Riki Medina!) But more than likely it’s for a younger child, maybe between 4 and 9. And if you’re looking at it from that angle, then yes, this game fares well.
Let’s take a look at the plot, as I described it to some of my Facebook friends:
I’d like to say I’m making this up, but I’m not. And if that seems silly and childish, that’s because it is… because the game was designed for children.
If the games seem simple and repetitive, remind yourself, it’s not for me. It’s for children. If the writing seems schmaltzy, remember, you’re not the target demographic, because you’re not between four and nine.
The minigames are simple and straightforward. From make-up parties to toned-down variations of Dance Dance Revolution, Barbie and her pals Teresa, Nikki, and that jerk Raquelle play minigames set up by the Closet to open up her Dreamhouse that got put on lockdown. This will allow players to move to other rooms and pick up accessories for Barbie, because how could there be a Barbie game without playing dress-up? From skirts to tops, earrings to shoes, Barbie’s wardrobe is about as big in this game as parents throughout the years can attest to via their checkbooks – it’s all in there.
Can you feel the excitement?
During the mini-games, words of encouragement are shouted by lookers-on Ken and the Closet. (Yes, the villain encourages you. It’s like GLaDOS except less menacing and more pink.) Award-winning writing such as “Barbie, you’re amazing…” and “Good work… Raquelle” are frequently hauled out after correctly striking a fierce pose on the runway. Because who better to judge fashion than a robot and Ken– well, wait, on that last part…
Obviously, a 32-year-old man probably doesn’t rank high as “best candidate to review a Barbie game,” so I had this tested by a few of my friends’ kids who fall in the demographic spectrum. The four-year-old girl loved it. Barbie could do no wrong in her sparkly pink Dreamhouse, even when throwing baked goods all over the kitchen. The controls were simple enough for her to understand and feel comfortable. The five-year-old boy liked it too, but not so much the dress up part, “cuz that’s for girls.”
I consider that half of a breakthrough for gender stereotypes, I guess.
As an adult, really my only regret (and it’s sizable) is that I wish the game required Barbie to do something smart, like math or science or something. A great opportunity was presented for this, long one of Barbie’s nagging grievances, and it was glossed over for… well, lip gloss and pretty stuff. There’s nothing wrong with pretty stuff. I love pretty stuff. But I just see it as a missed opportunity to teach girls the important lesson that smart lasts forever, while pretty fades. Unless, of course, you’re Barbie.
Other reviewers have said the game is vapid, and I understand where they’re coming from. But then again I remind myself, this game isn’t for me. It’s for four- to nine-year-olds. And in that aspect, it makes a good and reasonably-priced holiday pick up. I can’t say the game is the must-have title of the year, but when little sister sees older siblings getting video games, now they can be in the loop too.
Barbie Dreamhouse Party
2013, Little Orbit
Review based on Wii U version. Also available on Wii, 3DS, DS, and Windows
Rated E for everyone except for Raquelle… jerk.