Barbie as The Island Princess Review
By Pauline Clay |
Why is it that adults hate Barbie? Sure, she's of suspicious proportion, has a questionable IQ and is unaccountably rich despite doing nothing more than beaming out a vacuous smile, but so is Paris Hilton. And unlike said heiress, Barbie has had a much more impressive career. She's been a doctor, a secret agent, an explorer, a super model, a rock star, a gymnast, a detective, and heir to the throne of several mythical kingdoms.
In Activision's Barbie as The Island Princess, her latest regal domain lies in the South Seas on a deserted island, where she has been living since she was shipwrecked as a little girl. Barbie's new alias is Ro, a na´ve, tree-climbing Dr. Doolittle who has the ability to converse with animals. After she saves a royal explorer named Prince Antonio from being eaten by crocodiles, she decides to follow him back to civilization in order to find her family and make some new friends.
The game is based on the DVD of the same name, which means that if you haven't seen the movie you're going to have a hard time understanding why Barbie is constantly competing against a flamboyant peacock or hugging what appears to be a perfect stranger while singing a lullaby. It's not essential that you see the movie before you play the game, but it helps explain why random characters seem to pop up out of nowhere.
The game is divided up into five locations from the film, each featuring a number of mini-games. In each of these challenges you must earn points in order to acquire island roses. These roses are important because you can't travel on to the next location without them. Once you aquire enough flowers you'll be able to play new mini-games and unlock extra features, such as scenes from the movie and accessories that you can bedeck Barbie in when using the Dressing Room feature (which lets you dress Barbie in different outfits and nothing else).
Barbie as The Island Princess is pretty simple, which might be why very little money was thrown the developer's way in order to make it. Everything from graphics to gameplay is of rather poor quality. Stellar effects aren't going to matter much to a five year-old, but the controls are a serious problem. The game uses the arrow keys, the space key and the return key in a clumsy variety of combinations that make no sense. And it doesn't help that the controls are unintuitive. Telling Barbie to go left or right just seems to confuse her, while guiding objects to a target can be a slow and painful process. Activision also missed an opportunity to throw in a little educational value, which would have given extra incentive for parents to buy the game.