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 is a teen detective game suitable for tweens and up. Players take on the role of a crime-fighting high school teenager who looks for suspicious activity, solves mysteries, and makes sure justice is served -- as when she unravels the events behind a school fire and keeps the building janitor from being falsely convicted of the crime. She does carry out a few sneaky deeds -- like rifling through a fellow student’s purse for evidence -- but it’s all in the name of truth. She’s a good role model for girls. Note, though, that the game touches on a few issues that may be sensitive to kids, including divorce and the death of our protagonist’s father.
What's it about?
Imagine: Detective, the latest entry in Ubisoft’s Imagine series of games geared for girls, puts kids in the shoes of teen detective Kirsten Spark. A student in a small town high school, she’s still recovering from her father’s recent and suspicious death, and is a bit obsessed with solving crimes and ensuring justice is served, whether it’s investigating a missing book or finding out how a school fire began. Players spend their time investigating suspicious scenes by moving objects around with the stylus and tapping on items of interest to reveal clues. They also engage in mini-games, including one where they stealthily move around a room without being seen and another that involves stopping spinning pieces of a puzzle to reveal a picture. Once enough clues have been found, players need to remember them and quickly pick the proper ones out of groups to solve the case. With each solved case, we move a little closer to learning what happened to Kirsten’s dad.
Is it any good?
Imagine: Detective is a girl-centric game that is blissfully free of the genre’s typical superficial trappings, including fashion, makeup, and shopping. That’s not to say that Kirsten isn’t fashionable or feminine (quite the opposite), but rather that play is focused entirely on the investigation of crimes, which will hopefully help girls believe that they can use their brains to figure out riddles and complex problems.
The investigations are both brisk and fun. Players can drive Kirsten’s scooter anywhere in the city with a single tap of the stylus, and once they get to their destination it’s usually straight to work, with perhaps just a quick and witty bit of dialogue to preface her search for clues. It’s all over a bit more quickly than one might like, but once each investigative mini-game has been played it becomes available as a standalone activity from the main menu, giving the game a minor boost in longevity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be a detective, and how it’s important to alert adults to any activities you think might be criminal rather than try to investigate them yourself.
Families can also discuss the importance of privacy and the difference between true detective work and plain old snooping. Can you think of any instances in which it is acceptable to look through someone else’s private belongings?
- Platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, deduction, investigation
Emotional Development: empathy, moving beyond obstacles, persevering
Self-Direction: initiative, set objectives
- Price: $29.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: September 8, 2009
- Genre: Girl
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence
For kids who love solving mysteries and puzzles
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