by Vivendi Universal
put, Secret Agent Barbie is a girls' game designed by guys. I thought it
was interesting that out of a dozen game testers only one was female.
The key folks in the marketing department, however, were women. The
message is clear: We really dont need to design a game for girls; we
just need to sell the game to girls. This isnt to say that I didnt
like the game. As far as handheld fare goes, this is one of the better
titles Ive played in recent history. But Im a guy, and I just dont
know how Secret Agent Barbie: Royal Jewels Mission would stand up for
its intended audience.
trotting Barbie must catch a notorious globetrotting jewel thief. Secret
Agent Barbie is surprisingly well executed. Its a basic run, jump and
roll side-scroller with a few gadgets thrown in. The focus of the game
is definitely stealth. You need to avoid detection at all costs. Theres
no way for you to confront enemies. You just have to run away. Luckily
for Barbie, she can make herself invisible for short periods of time
with her invisibility ring. You also get a grappling hook to help reach
high places and a little robot dog for distracting guards. My favorite
gadget of course is smoke screen compact. I love it when theyre able to
combine cutting edge technology with a girls need to look smashing.
has to avoid being seen. It must be very difficult to look so stunning
and yet have no one notice. Ill never fully understand the trials in
the life of a young model, secret agent, nurse, flight attendant,
doctor, Olympian, veterinarian, surfer babe. The game uses a detection
meter rather than a health meter. The more times you are seen, the
quicker your stealth factor decreases. It was a little annoying to be
standing in front of a guard watching the meter run out. He doesnt
actually do anything until he has watched you for a good while. And
although I like the idea of a game that rewards you for avoiding
confrontations rather than escalating them, I would have liked to have
seen at least the option to handcuff the bad guys.
gameplay is actually fairly varied. You have little mini games to unlock
some doors which are kind of fun, if repetitive. Barbie also gets to
ride a jet ski, horse and do some scuba diving. The graphics are pretty
well thought out with lots of pretty pastels. I really liked the light
colors on the GBAs traditionally murky screen. You can always see what
was going on.
Agent Barbie continues the trend of incredibly short games for the Game
Boy Advance. Dont expect to be working overtime at this one. There are
some bonuses to unlock which may give the perpetually bored a little
something extra to do. Not only do you have secret gadgets galore at
your disposal, but you can unlock some really great looking outfits so
that you can right the wrongs of society in style.
many secret agent games seem to revolve around saving the world. If it
were James Bond, hed be averting a nuclear holocaust. Why is it that
Secret Agent Barbie is only entrusted with the recovery of some diamonds
and rubies? Do we not have enough confidence in her abilities, or is it
that female secret agents have a different set of values? Theres a
stereotype being perpetuated here that Im a little uncomfortable with.
Is Barbies quest for gold and pearls little more than an elaborate
shopping trip? Im sure shell return everything to its rightful owner,
but not without at least trying on the tiara first.
If youve been frustrated at your daughters inability to get excited
about Metal Gear Solid, Barbie might be the primer that youve been
looking for. It provides the perfect transition from a world of sugar,
spice and niceties to the cold, hard existence of a lone soldier out to
save the world.
Jason Frank (11/17/2002)
Focus on avoidance rather than conflict; some good
mini-games; overall nice game design.
Game Boy Advance