A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is the equivalent of the average 'tween girl fashion magazine in terms of depth. There's an online component where players can play mini-games and chat with friends (by typing text or drawing pictures) either locally or over WiFi, and add friends to a buddylist. To add a friend they will have to know them already and specifically ask for that player's "Friend Code" that comes with each game.
What's it about?
DIARY GIRL isn't a game in the traditional sense, but rather a kind of all-purpose digital day timer targeting young girls. Opening up the application, which requires the Nintendo DS to be held sideways like a book, gives the owner access to a calendar (that goes all the way to 2020) that they can tap to add diary entries to a specific day of the week using a virtual keyboard, and add icons to represent feelings and weather conditions.
Users can personalize the \"front cover\" of the diary with stickers, draw or color in pictures with a Paint program, and create a personal avatar by customizing clothing and physical features. There's also a calculator and a horoscope, which offers monthly forecasts, love advice, and handy tips -- like the fact that you can stick your nails in a bowl of cold water if you want your nail polish to dry faster. Diary Girl also features a handful of mini-games that can be played either alone or with a friend wirelessly. These are extremely simple, though fun, diversions that include mah jong, a music game, a jigsaw puzzle, and a maze where the goal is to navigate through with the stylus collecting gems and keys. The diary can be \"locked\" with a password to keep out prying eyes, although the password can also be reset through a simple procedure, meaning information is never completely private.
Is it any good?
Diary Girl is by no means broken or bad, but it comes off as simplistic compared to other application-like DS titles like Brain Age and Jam Sessions, and isn't likely to hold any long-term appeal. Furthermore, there's something special about a hand-written journal (or even digital files that can be stored and transferred to CDs) that a confined, cartridge-based application just can't match.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's fun to keep a journal, and brainstorm different topics to write about each day. Parents might want to use Diary Girl as a stepping stone towards a more permanent paper journal or online diary (where kids can additionally hone writing and typing skills).
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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.