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The Barbie Diaries: High School Mystery (GBA)
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 Barbie game is easy and short. The only negative content is the decision by the high school staff to "not involve the authorities" in the investigation of a theft of items from a school. Another thing for parents to consider is the age-compression issue. Wouldn't it make more sense if this game for tweens was set in a middle school instead of a high school?
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What's it about?
THE BARBIE DIARIES: HIGH SCHOOL MYSTERY GBA is based on The Barbie Diaries movie, which stars Barbie as a high schooler contending with the typical high school crowds: the jocks, queen bees, and social outcasts. In the movie, Barbie plays guitar and sings in a girl rock-'n'-roll band. In this game, Barbie and her buddies are embroiled in a mystery: Items slated for a charity auction have disappeared. They're actually stolen, but for some reason the thief has placed them all around the school as a sort of prank, and begins leaving clues for Barbie.
After the initial story lead-in, players begin as Barbie in this adventure-style game. Barbie explores the high school, picks up clues, and plays several Mini games along the way. Once she's found all the auction items, it's time for the denouement!
Is it any good?
At first glance, this appears to be a promising game for young girls, as it stars Barbie in a high school setting with a mystery to solve and Mini games to break up the adventure along the way. But the initial promise never quite delivers and the game never rises above the ordinary. It's basically an adventure, but Barbie does very little sleuthing. There are lots of characters standing around, but there is no meaningful interaction; Barbie collects clues, but she doesn't do much with them.
Several interactive Mini games are included in the adventure, but for some reason most are not available in the Mini game mode for separate play later. These Mini games range from simple arcade types to critical-thinking games, but most aren't very fun. The game is very short and can be completed in one sitting of a few hours. The story itself is pretty unimaginative, and there's a sense of "so what?" to it all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of honesty and responsibility when laws are broken, and appropriate methods for dealing with these situations. Since the thief claims to have "hidden" the missing items instead of "stealing" them, families can talk about whether this situation is stealing. Families can also talk about consulting with people in authority -- what is their role and when should they be consulted?
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