A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while Barbie and the Three Musketeers is highly commercial fare, it has a good message about girl power. Its heroines are self-reliant puzzle solvers who make their way through side-scrolling, two-dimensional worlds scaring away animals and collecting coins and hearts. There is the threat of violence -- our characters use weapons such as a sword and claws to scare away small animals including mice and bats -- but they never strike anything other than inanimate objects, such as bricks and scarecrows. While girls as young as age 5 will be attracted to this game after seeing the DVD movie, it is so difficult to play that is fits better at age 7.
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What's it about?
Based on the recently released direct-to-DVD movie starring Barbie and her friends, BARBIE AND THE THREE MUSKETEERS features the iconic doll as a French country girl who wants to head to Paris to become a musketeer. She journeys with her cat, Miette, and befriends three other young girls, each of whom has a special ability. Together, they embark on a simple side-scrolling adventure, leaping between platforms, swinging across gaps, and scaring away annoying animals with weapons such as swords, claws, and ribbon whips. Players can switch to smaller Miette whenever they like and crawl through narrow tunnels to reach hidden treasure and toggle buttons that activate bridges and doors. There’s also a shop players can visit to spend coins and buy outfits for the girls.
Is it any good?
There are some good Barbie games out there, but this isn’t one of them. Aside from a few polished clips from the film, the game looks like a free Flash-based PC game. Plus, stiff, unforgiving controls make moving around and jumping a frustrating chore. Worst of all, though, is that many levels are just too hard. It can be very difficult to figure out where to go next or how to go about getting there. It’s tough to believe that the game’s target demographic of six- and seven-year-olds will have the patience or fortitude required to work through some of these navigational puzzles.
Still, it’s not all bad. Our heroines’ and Miette’s distinct abilities are fun to use, and provide good reason to return to earlier levels with areas that were previously inaccessible. And Viveca’s clothing shop will provide good entertainment for doll-loving youngsters. It’s just too bad that the rest of the game feels so rushed and unpolished.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game and the movie. How closely does the game follow the movie’s story? Did you feel like you had an opportunity to play out events you saw in the film? If you haven’t seen the movie, does the game make you want to watch it?
Families can also discuss film merchandising. What purpose do games based on movies serve? Do you think these sorts of games are generally as fun and interesting as games with original stories and characters? Would you have played this game had it starred unfamiliar characters?
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