A game that’s not for me and probably not for you, but perhaps for your little sister, several decades ago.
DEVELOPER: Imagineering Games
RELEASE DATE: December 1991
My wife told me that if I didn’t beat this game, we’d be getting a divorce. Sadly, the paperwork is already being drawn up. Barbie isn’t what I would call a challenging game, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t lose a lot of lives to some flying fish. I’m pretty sure my wife’s remark was all in good fun, until I told her that Barbie was “women’s work” and that she should beat it herself after she made me a sandwich. So yeah, I’m sitting outside using someone’s Wi-Fi. It’s cold out.
Seeing as I’m not the demographic Imagineering Games was going for, I will not be criticizing the excruciating and over-the-top girliness of the game’s design. Instead I will judge this game solely as one of hundreds of games released for the NES in its lifetime. That being written, Barbie is an incredibly easy and bland game that was only designed to capitalize on the overwhelming popularity of the “Barbie” franchise. It was one of the few games solely marketed towards girls during the NES lifetime, and it, much like the doll herself, treats little girls as if they were already vapid airheads. The plot? Hahaha. You control Barbie in her dreams about adventuring in the mall, at the beach, and at a soda shop. Eventually, you meet Ken at a party and dance the night away. It’s your typical NES left-to-right platformer, save for one interesting mechanic: Barbie can throw a crystal that allows animals in the level to help her. These animals sometimes take down enemies or even help you defeat certain bosses. It might not seem creative today in 2011, but I can’t recall an NES game that had a feature like that.
The creativity stops with your animal friends, though. Barbie looks like a man in drag and controls like one too. Thankfully, she doesn’t need to do much, other than jump and throw crystals at animals, but would it have killed the developers to give this supposedly female character some grace? Enemies are your standard “high heels” and “fountain fish” fare. Even if the Barbie character and all subsequent girly stuff was removed from this game and replaced with, say, our beloved Master Higgins, this game would still be phoned-in crap. As it stands, if I was a little girl who played games in the early 90s, I’d be insulted.