Raising a Gamer

Barbie: Super Model (Genesis)

Sticking with the theme from my first piece, I wanted to revisit another definitive game from my childhood to share with my daughter, Mae. This time I figured we would try Disney’s Aladdin for the Genesis. This game had everything I thought a small child could want, magic, monkeys with swords, rugs. I was so excited to share this one with my daughter. I couldn’t wait to see her face light up when she got to the extremely satisfying yet terribly difficult Rug Ride level.  But after playing Aladdin for a while I realized that while Mae definitely enjoyed parts of Aladdin, the game was just far too difficult for a 4 year old as a whole. With all of the jumping, climbing, apple throwing, and navigating through lava, I could tell she was getting frustrated.

continueHow about we try something else? 

Games are supposed to be fun and I didn’t want her to walk away from this experience disappointed. Rather than risk tarnishing an otherwise great game for her in the future, I figured I would let her pick something else from our slowly growing collection of Genesis games. She immediately suggested we give Barbie: Super Model a try. As soon as we turned it on her face lit up in the same way that mine did when I played Aladdin when I was a kid.

At the options menu for Barbie: Super Model you can select Free Play which removes time frames and penalties. This mode is great for my daughter because it gives her a chance to figure it out on her own without having to look to me disappointed because the timer has run out. I liked how this one can be picked up and put down so easily. No unnecessary menus, loading screens, or wordy introductions. You can turn on the console and be playing within about 20 seconds which is great when playing with kids.

Barbie: Super Model has levels but to me feels like more of a collection of mini-games. One or two of the mini-games/bonus levels were beyond Mae’s skill level; however, the others were pretty accessible and fun. This is a good game to share with a small child because when Mae got to a part she was struggling with, she could just pass the controller to me for help and then could go right back to the mini-games she really liked. Her favorite mini-game involved matching Barbie’s outfit or makeup to a magazine cover. You get to choose the outfit and makeup combination for Barbie using simple controls with a lot of variety for the style and colors.

This mini-game held Mae’s attention for the majority of our time playing Barbie: Super Model. The game wants you to match the outfit to the magazine cover shown when the game starts but Mae had more fun just coming up with crazy outfit combinations. It would have been nice to perform the required runway stage in the outfits selected in the earlier games because the dull brown jacket that Barbie wears on the runway resulted in a few “Hey, that’s not the outfit I picked before” moments. Not sure if that was considered when developing, but I’m sure that my daughter isn’t the first kid to lodge that complaint.

Barbie carBehold the glory that is Barbie’s Pink Corvette!

The Practice Room levels require you to memorize a series of button combinations to do gymnastics? Or yoga? I’m not exactly sure what it is. Barbie is wearing sweatpants, I can tell you that much. This one was probably our least favorite. It just isn’t really memorable in any way. After a couple of playthroughs, Mae would just ask me to beat it quickly so we can move on to one of the games she enjoyed more.

As a parent who grew up with a love of sports cars, my favorite part of the game had to be driving the Corvette around town dodging other cars and collecting stars. Mae and I would switch off on these travel levels as they do get a little harder as the game progresses.

Of the games we currently have this is without a doubt Mae’s favorite. I don’t mind it either, It looks pretty good and the music is catchy, more importantly, I like seeing my daughter enjoy it so much. I plan on taking her to the local game shop so she can pick out a few herself. I will still point her in what I think would be a fun direction, but I’ll let her build her own gaming identity and let her choose the games from now on.