Developer Wayforward Technologies hit the nail on the head with this game, reaching the target audience mark by creating a decent game that younger girls can definitely enjoy.
Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus is a release that directly correlates to the straight-to-DVD movie. A PC game of the same name was also released but the title finds a more solid home on the kid friendly GBA system. Yes, this is a game for young girls, but Wayforward has taken this game in a different direction.
For some reason, just about every game based for girls revolves around one of the following gameplay elements: making friends at the mall, walking through the hallways of school while avoid retarded traps like books falling out of lockers or getting sprayed by a possessed water fountain, or playing dress up by finding the best combination of clothes to attract the ?cute guy.? The stereotypes are enough to make anyone sick. Yes, you can find unlockable new outfits for Barbie to wear in this game, but isn?t that what Barbie is all about? Plus, Barbie isn?t trying to impress the hunk of the school. It simply adds a new cosmetic skin to the game. On the other hand, the designers managed to create a game that is non-violent, contains a decent story, and isn?t that bad to play.
The evil Warlord Wenlock has turned everyone in Barbie?s land into stone. The only way to free everyone from their solidified state is to knock them over the head with a magic wand. While turning everyone into stone with a Medusa-like spell, Wenlock also managed to turn Barbie?s sister into a flying Pegasus. While the main gameplay mode is a side-scrolling platformer, the action breaks up on occasion to play a minigame with the Pegasus.
Everything that Barbie does revolves around the powers of the wand. Each stage will end when everyone is freed from his or her stone prison. While the wand has the ability to free NPCs, it also gives Barbie her special abilities and a means to attack baddies. For example, early in the game, players will find the ability to make Barbie jump really high. The next power-up she finds will make her float laterally. However, each ability must be scrolled through with the ?R? button. This forced scrolling can become a major inconvenience. Why have the player scroll through a list of abilities when you can just make her jump higher in the first place, similar to say, Metroid. If the player had to select an option when to high jump in Metroid, the gameplay and action would completely fall apart. It can become frustrating when the player wants to simply attack an incoming enemy, but can?t scroll quickly enough through the ?R? button options.
There are a few enemies scattered throughout each stage, but they offer nothing more than cheap hits. Why? Because most enemies must be killed by crouch attacking. By the time the player realizes this, damage will have already been sustained. But all this doesn?t really matter anyway because Barbie has unlimited health when playing on Easy mode. This is a perfect way to keep the game in a young kid?s hands.
The game is a platformer at heart and it works very well for a younger audience. However, to a more experienced player, the level design and gameplay will grow stale within a couple levels. But older and more experienced players will not normally be playing a Barbie game in the first place.
Wayforward is known for one thing: making games with awesome graphics and animations. Shantae on the GameBoy Color takes credit for one of the most well animated games on the system, and their recently released Sigma Star Saga also scores very high in the visuals department. Wayforward takes great pride in creating all their sprites and animations for their handheld games. Unexpectedly, Barbie is another game to add to the list of high quality visuals. The music is also fairly well composed and has been created with care.
Flaws aside, this is the best young girl targeted GBA game to come out in a long time. If I had a young daughter, I would very much rather buy her this Barbie game than any other children?s game including That?s So Raven, Disney Princess, or any Shrek game. It would have been better if there was some other type of ability switching aspect, but assigning everything to one button makes it easier for younger players. The mini games are a nice break from the main game, and they will even potentially remind older gamers of NES?s Balloon Fight. The only real downfall is there is no battery backup save function. Everything requires a four-character password which can as become a major problem when little kids play it. To an experience gamer, this game deserves a slightly above average score, despite being designed for kids. But to a young child, this game should rank as a 9 out of 10. Parents, if you are looking for a game to buy your young daughter, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus is definitely a great choice.