A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Barbie Dreamhouse Party is a small collection of mini-games starring Mattel's Barbie and a few of her friends. There's no violence or bad language in any of the activities, but the doll-like characters in the game are extremely shallow of personality, seemingly concerned solely with their appearance, clothing, make-up, and accessories. What's more, the game is clearly engineered as a promotion for the Barbie brand, advertising not just dolls like Barbie and Ken but also specific products, like Barbie's Dreamhouse doll house and her big toy styling heads.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
BARBIE DREAMHOUSE PARTY is a collection of mini-games starring a group of dolls visiting Barbie at her home. Things take a turn for the bizarre when one of Barbie's friends accidentally sets off the home security system, locking the friends behind steel shutters. The house's odd Artificial Intelligence -- a mechanical eye named "Closet" perched on a reticulating arm -- then forces the girls to engage in nine mini-games in order to unlock the doors between rooms, one by one. Barbie and her friends need to first run around each room, searching under cushions and behind lamps for a series of objects -- such as make-up bags -- that need to be placed on four pedestals, which will trigger the start of a game. These games are generally simple timed tasks in which players need to repeat an action over and over again in an effort to successfully complete it more times than their opponents. Kids may need to rub back and forth on the GamePad screen to apply make-up to a giant doll head, select items of clothing or accessories as directed by Closet, run around a room with a tray to collect wrapped gifts falling from the sky, or strike specific runway poses. Up to three friends can join the primary player.
Is it any good?
Barbie Dreamhouse Party's extremely simple mini-games are clearly targeted at young girls, which is a little disturbing given the emphasis they place on appearance, clothes, make-up, jewelry, and feminine movement. Also concerning are the dolls' shallow interests and concerns, which center around things like boyfriends, material items, and smudged make-up.
The play, meanwhile, does little to make a parent want to overlook these thematic issues. Tapping a button to search cushions and lamps for stage lights and jewelry boxes is the definition of tedious, and the mini-games are exercises in repetition. The most entertaining part of the game may be a pair of short unlockable videos which relate brief but occasionally witty stories set in Barbie's house, including one in which Ken shows off and explains all of the improvements he's made to Barbie's wardrobe (few of which actually work). But a couple of funny videos don't justify the game's exorbitant $40 price tag. This is one your daughter can safely skip.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dolls. What sort of dolls do you like to play with? What do you think of Barbie dolls? Have you ever compared how different kinds of dolls look next to one another? What did you notice?
Families can also discuss making wise shopping decisions. Some games based on toys and movies have great ideas and are fun to play, while others seem to exist only to help promote what originally inspired them. How can you tell the difference between good games based on licensed products and bad?
Talk about body image and how it is portrayed in this game.
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Windows
- Subjects: Arts: dance
Hobbies: fashion, pets
- Skills: Communication: friendship building
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Little Orbit
- Release date: November 26, 2013
- Genre: Girl
- Topics: Friendship
- ESRB rating: E for (No Descriptors)
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.