Barbie Dreamhouse Party Creeps The Crap Out Of Me

By John Walker on November 27th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

I think Barbie Dreamhouse Party might be the most sarcastic, darkly satirical game I’ve ever played. And I’m not even sure if I’m joking at this point. When a game with a name like that pops up on Steam, of course any red-blooded human games journalist is going to take a look, right? I was expecting a garish pink mess of dress-up minigames and saccharine terror, obviously, but Dreamhouse Party seems to take this into a whole other realm of creepy weirdness. This is a game in which a sentient closet-based AI locks four girls in a room (with giant metal barriers) because one of them smudged her make-up, and forces them to repeatedly apply lipstick and eyeliner to freakishly giant doll heads until he is satisfied. That’s not my arch interpretation of events. That’s what actually happens.

Things begin innocently enough. Barbie, controlled in the third person, is prancing around her lavish Dreamhouse entranceway. It’s a clumsy menu screen of sorts, in which options are accessed by going upstairs, and down the corridor on the left. But it also features Barbie’s on-again off-again love interest, Ken, another ladyfriend upstairs, and some dickhole playing a guitar. There’s already access to playing dress-up at this point, but things don’t start to get weird until you speak to someone. Then… then it just seems to get really damned sarcastic. Take a look:

With sugar on top.

Go through the doors downstairs and you’ll enter Barbie’s opulent mansion, built from the tears of the decades of children her organless torso has traumatised. At this point, three screeching idiot friends join her, representing all of humanity: Dangerously thin and brunette, dangerously thin and black, and dangerously thin and a bit rock but not enough to worry anyone. The four of them are pratting about in the living room, playing Barbie’s favourite videogame, when Not-Quite-Rock-Chick gets bored and decides to sabotage the evening. She approach’s Barbie’s massive bleeping, blooping 1960s space station computer that she has, and just starts hitting random buttons to make the stupid game they’re playing stop working. But uh-oh, in doing so she triggers an apparently malevolent AI that Barbie has built into her warehouse-like wardrobe.

I swear I’m not making this up.

The robot, called Closet, and unquestionably inspired by GLaDOS, then brings down massive metal shutters across all the doorways, trapping the doll-things and declaring they will now be forced to complete minigames. These involve trapping the girls in one particular room, and then having them hunt about for four of an object, and place them on pedestals in the “correct” order. At this point the game seems to think it’s intended to be four-player co-op, despite not offering any such thing, as the other three girls start madly hunting around the room too of their own volition. As Barbie you click on whatever’s nearby, and then get told only one of the others can find an MP3 here, through the medium of a circle with their face confusingly appearing. The AI eventually runs over and grabs it. It makes so little sense. That done, you’re then allowed access to challenges that really stretch the “mini” element of “minigame”. For three minutes I was forced to participate in a watered down dance-dance-revolution thing, which saw no variety throughout, beyond almost imperceptibly speeding up. After a minute of this bland nothingness I thought I was doing something wrong, missing the point of how to win, before I realised the clock was counting down, and there was still another two minutes to go. Upon winning, our robot overlord gave us permission to pick another room in the house, and it repeated.

The bathroom’s minigame involved scrubbing horses. Obviously. I didn’t do so well at this one, because I’d been playing with an Xbox controller, since it seemed to prefer that. The other three were merrily washing and blow-drying horses, but I could do nothing at all. I tried hitting the keyboard instead, and still nothing. Checked the options for controls, and there was nothing there. Turned out I was meant to be using the mouse – you know, the mouse that isn’t even implemented to be used with the game’s menus. I was so behind the others for cleaning horses!

The “Make-Up Room”, which is a thing, was where I’d make up for this. Get it? And was where things got properly sinister. I can only share it with you. (I was going to speed the footage up in this, before I realised I didn’t know how, so I recommend skipping after 20 seconds in to about 3 minutes):

I punched the air when I got that last face done before the time ran out.

In Chelsea’s bedroom I was forced to accessorize, matching belts and earrings to the dress Barbie’s wearing. Except it made me put clashing pinks and reds together, which was an affront. In the kitchen I had to throw cupcakes at a table. In the garage I had to drop cogs down a hole.

It’s worth noting that the game’s absolutely fucking terrible. The challenges are facile beyond belief, and it’s fundamentally about the madness of competing against three other AI players who seem about as capable as their plastic real-life equivalents. Even if the enormously sinister themes, and openly sarcastic commentary (the main voice sounds an awful lot like Cookie Masterson from the You Don’t Know Jack games), are all part of an attempt by a development studio to scream out from beneath the horror of the contract they’d acquired, they were still crap at making a game. The entire thing is over in barely a couple of hours, and on this they’ve decided to brave a price of £23!

I’ll give the final word to Creepy Guitar Douche.

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127 Comments »

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  1. kwyjibo says:

    It’s progressive of them to include blacks though.

    • Didden says:

      Hmmm. I sadly have a friend who’s 15 year old daughter is in a clinic fighting for her life because of anorexia. I’d be quite happy if the people making money off all of this, while perpetuating unhealthy, unrealistic versions of these unobtainable female Stepford wife stereotypes would all just f-off and die.

      • Reapy says:

        Anorexia has very little do with weight and is more of a method for coping with a loss of control. The eating disorder is a filter for all their inside emotions, and often the more disgust they feel towards their body is an indicator that they are upset about something else, not their weight.

        I would look towards what is happening in your friend’s household or that girl’s life before dumping the responsibility on the (agreeably) crappy media pressure to look a certain way.

        • gwathdring says:

          So, you’re making the case that social pressure to look a certain way is not particularly likely to induce depression with respect to one’s weight?

          Mood disorders can be worsened by many factors, some entirely cognitive/internal/chemical, some dietary, some social, some otherwise environmental. People sometimes cope with mood disorders with controlled cutting, bulimia, anorexia, simply overeating and many other harmful or life-threatenting behaviors. Research suggests, though, that anorexia and similar eating disorders (namely bulimia) are somewhat distinct from simple coping mechanisms for other disorders and the difference seems to be, surprise, body image.

          I’m just kinda confused as to what you’re getting at. Why on Earth would you suggest that body image isn’t a central part of anorexia? We should look at a person’s whole context to understand why their psychological stress orbits around their body image and feelings of control are very much a part of that; which. It’s important not to look at the disorder as entirely socially created. Rather, it is a disorder with some fundamentally similar underlying neurological cause from case to case that interacts with it’s surrounding social systems to create a reliable set of symptoms.

          It’s worth trying to pick apart which symptoms are dependent on social context and which are part of the core neurological issue that causes an individual’s quality of life to decline. But that doesn’t make the social component fictitious or suggest that there’s some “real” problem underlying the socially connected one.

          There is some evidence that anorexia sufferers have higher levels of certain hunger signaling hormones though last I read it was unclear if this was more chicken or more egg–their body desperate for food and ramping up signaling or a predisposition to feel a physical NEED for food causing them to feel more guilty about their relationship with food and to be more afraid of weight gain thus over-correcting. Most likely it’s a combination of both depending on the case and undoubtedly it is not, by itself, a causal factor.

          • Reapy says:

            My point was trying to be that anorexia and similar are not typically from a person (man/woman) feeling they need to be thin, but from deeper underlying issues, often times from living in an environment in which one feels wildly out of control such as with alcoholic/substance abusing parents. So not saying body image is not important, just that body image is the symptom rather than the core cause.

            Again that may be that I’m only describing one shape of EDs that I know from personal acquaintances and there are other root causes, but the books I read did not seem to focus in on that, though again I haven’t read any current research material within the last decade.

          • gwathdring says:

            Hmm. Well, there are plenty of cases of anorexia from stable homes. It doesn’t take substance abuse or child abuse to develop Anorexia; while sexual abuse does seem to be related to many cases of bulimia (though by no means all and I don’t remember if it’s most), there is nowhere near as strong a link with Anorexia. Anorexia does not have a single cause or at least, if it does, we haven’t found it. There are some genetic markers that show up consistently, some dietary chemical imbalances that may or may not be partially causal, various personality features that seem to be common among sufferer’s and so forth.

            The trouble with Anorexia, as with most psychological disorders, is that our understanding of them is almost entirely symptomatic. Neuroscience research, though, does seem to support the interpretation that the core of Anorexia is a misaligned reward/consequence mechanism possibly alongside a screwed up pleasure mechanism and something funky happening with seratonin but I haven’t read much about that last one specifically. Of course, brain imaging is at a point where we’re really good at it and really bad at telling what the hell it means so my informal paraphrasing is a disappointingly accurate picture of what such research has told us.

            I’m fairly sure that the somewhat Freudian interpretation of repressed childhood trauma emerging during teenage years has gone out of vogue since (in particular with regard to childhood sexual abuse and Dissociative Identity Disorder), research into repressed memory, psychosis and trauma has been at the very least utterly trounced for it’s complete and inherent lack of reliability and I would say quite substantially debunked as relevant to all but the more bizarre psychological ailments. But that doesn’t seem to be the interpretation you’re speaking to (though Mayo Clinic perpetuates that awful myth :( ). I don’t know statistics support in terms of a connection to substance abusing parents, but I can tell you that the typical sufferer is motivated and successful in their work and academic life and there are certainly plenty of cases that arise in comfortable homes without substance abuse even if there is an unusually high connection between parents who practice substance abuse and anorexia compared to other disorders.

            I do detect a slightly Freudian idea, though. The idea that substance abusing parents create an environment that can’t be controlled. The problem is that Anorexia is (whether it always starts thusly or not) very much a neurological and dietary phenomenon. This is what makes it so difficult to treat. Simply improving one’s emotional environment could not fix the measurable chemical differences in the blood and the supposed and imaging-supported differences in the neurolochemical environment. The core symptom of anorexia is not the thin-ness but the reversal of response to food compared to a healthy person–eating causes stress while abstaining from food creates a feeling of calm. I find it unlikely that parental substance abuse would be particularly correlated to that and as far as I can tell the literature does not support that idea particularly robustly.

          • Reapy says:

            Firstly thank you for all the information.

            Secondly, I really was tossing the first paragraph out because many people that haven’t looked into eating disorders only see the surface reflection of it and think that it is an extreme take on the need to be thin, that if you can just convince a person they are thin already and/or good looking that all will be fine, when the issues run much deeper than that, and the contest of starving of yourself is only a reflection of that.

            It is a very hard to understand thing for people, the initial reaction is to be like ‘just eat’.

            I didnt mean to say the I only thought the one cause of eating disorders is substance abusing parents, I just meant to say really that a common thing is that central theme of loss of control. Certainly a wildly unpredictable parent is grounds for triggering the flight or flight system frequently, a constant feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, that things can go wrong at any moment (as they do in some households like that). But yes that certainly is not the only aspect or start of it, merely meant it as one example of such.

            Really I just wanted to point out that anorexia runs deeper than a need to be thin and although easy to dismiss it as such, it deserves further understanding if someone you know and love is showing any signs of that behavior. I personally found the book Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia as a very informative and eye opening read into understanding eating disorders.

          • Chalky says:

            Reapy, these are very good and insightful points, well done for making them.

            gwathdring, your point about “stable homes” misses the point here somewhat. As Reapy says, the cause is very complex and generally to do with loss of control – this can be caused by anything and have all sorts of consequences depending on the individual, but frequently the cause can be linked to parental pressure, or perceived pressure to achieve highly. This means that “stable homes” are often precisely the sort of environment where this occurs – for genuinely good intentions too. One child has this experience and becomes successful and happy but another child has the exact same experience but becomes anorexic because their personality just reacts to it differently.

            It’s extremely complex, saying it’s about being thin is true, but it’s an enormous simplification.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Sorry, I just need to clear up a few things here,

          There is not a large evidence base for neurological issues being a major causative factor in eating disorders, there is far more evidence for psychological factors such as a need to feel control, particularly control over the body. Stress, relational and familial issues, perfectionism, poor self worth and early trauma (both sexual, emotional, violent and neglecting) are all implicated. Anorexia is actually a very rare eating disorder, comprising only 5% of all diagnoses, and is understood by some models as more of a transitional stage towards bullimia and (by far the most commonly diagnosed) ‘eating disorder not otherwise specified’. Eating disorders pretty much always occur as part of a complex of other issues. To say that there is no role of cultural ideas of body image would ignore the fact that eating disorders are highly culturally specific, and most often occur in cultures where thinness is prized in women, although it is much more complex than “skinny women in the media make women starve themselves”.
          Also worth considering is that eating disorders may or may not involve body dysmorphia i.e. the eating behaviour may or may not be intended to alter body image.

          • Reapy says:

            That is very interesting to think on… I wonder if people in different cultures under similar pressures/situations that would lead to an eating disorder manifest in different ways by having some other ‘target goal’. I know that an eating disorder can start as a curiosity of ‘hey, can i do it?’ thing. I know that in some cultures there is ‘gavage’ which is a force feeding to inflict maxim weight gain in starving areas of the world as that is a more prized appearance than slender.

            Again I did not really mean to come across that body image is not a factor, just not in the way that it seemed phrased in the original comment.

        • Didden says:

          First off, thanks for the thoughtful, eloquent replies. I will pass some of this on.

          I was pretty succinct about my thoughts earlier, but yes, I think these sort of stereotypes are insidious in their nature, always at the background, reinforcing ideas and cultural doctrines – these days, often purely for profit. I have no time for the manufacturers behind these products and I can only imagine the thoughtless hive mind drones who actually sit around a table and conjure up this sort of crap, actually live. I’m sure the monthly profits graphs and pie charts look excellent though – albeit pink. By now, you’ve probably guessed I definitely put them up their with the bankers of this world.

          http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2831/was-pink-originally-the-color-for-boys-and-blue-for-girls

          I feel sad that people like Edward Bernay’s have quietly changed our world, and most people don’t even know how he did it or who he is.

    • mollygos says:

      “PROGRESSIVE to include blacks”? Holy shit it is 2013. Including people of color in your game does not make you “progressive”.

      • Guzzleguts says:

        it was clearly an ironic post.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Perhaps his outrage was also ironic, out-ironicing everyone.

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            Don Reba says:

            Or maybe Guzzleguts cleverly noticed the irony in that outrage and egged mollygos on by subtly implying that the post was not actually ironic.

    • SaVi says:

      Black people too have wallet’s and nagging children. I find it way more progressive that Barby plays Video Games.

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        Don Reba says:

        Perhaps, they just asked themselves, “to what could someone playing a Barbie video game relate?” — clearly, makeup and video games. No use in showing them anything like sports or social interaction.

    • Tuor says:

      It would’ve been much more progressive to include sharks… with accessorized lasers on their heads… and wearing make-up. It would’ve had the added benefit of making the game a million times better (but still not palatable).

    • Ollie32 says:

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  2. satan says:

    The fools! If only they’d gone for a dark and gritty series reboot.

  3. Beernut says:

    Since I haven’t been told differently (like in here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/11/27/stalin-vs-martians-vs-common-sense/), I take it that you’re recommending this game?

  4. Muzman says:

    Oh god the make up bit needs to be a mod for Surgeon Simulator.
    And someone please do a GlaDos voice mashup with “Closet”.

  5. BubbaNZ says:

    Increasingly I find myself thinking reality is a nightmare illusion from which I might wake up and this did not help at all.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Mah, nightmares are dreams, and in my dreams I’m Batman.

      This is definitely reality and not a dream, because I’m currently not Batman. :(

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        colossalstrikepackage says:

        Unless… You are actually Batman, who dreams of not being Batman. Stands to reason that he just needs a holiday from Gotham and all it’s craziness.

  6. Didden says:

    Needs more pink. Just saying.

    • Arclight says:

      Needs more bows. I’m utterly confused as to which gender these characters are supposed to be otherwise.

  7. fluffy_thedestroyer says:

    … no feedback from a kid on this ? I would be interested to know whats their thought on it ? Give me or anyone other critic background experience a chance to play and we’ll massacre the devs for creating it but for a kid…it might be different

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Kids would rate a cardboard box “umpteen out of 10″, or also a stick on fire “ten out of awesome”. Though their opinion is valuable, their judgement is naturally not developed.

      Thus I’ll accept only adult comments on this game. Make people play the crud they tried to force on us when we were kids and see if they like it!

      • gwathdring says:

        Indeed! My favorite psych professor always liked to quote some famous psychologist who said “Children are brain damage patients with a good prognosis.”

        We should definitely try to be in tune with what our kids like. Forcing them to listen to us read Hamlet or play Shostakovitch just because it’s Culture only to find out they liked it because of the swords and shit or the loud noises can be kind of silly. At the same time, it’s our job to expose kids to a variety of experiences so they develop as flexible a mind and appetite as possible so sometimes we should push them or expose them to things they won’t quite understand.

        But when it comes to figuring out what kids should be playing and how good it is? We should probably take any of their ideas with a bunch of buckets of salt depending on the age and maturity of the kid. Your brain never truly stops developing, though there’s definitely a point where the decay and inflexibility of age/experience start to tip the scales a bit in the wrong direction … certainly children aren’t very good at assessing even children’s media in the substantially-pre-teen age bracket.

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          As a young kid of 5 or 6 I couldn’t get enough of Gustav Holst. I’m not sure whether my parents thought I was surprisingly mature in my musical taste or whether they realised it was just because the Planets Suite it sounded like the music from Star Wars. Later on of course I realised that that’s because Williams ripped it off :)

    • pepperfez says:

      …no feedback from a kitten on this?

    • LionsPhil says:

      You’d expose a child to this advocacy of godawful valley-talk and makeup practices that would be subtle for burlesque acts?

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      The problem is that exposing a child to this is technically a war crime

    • Scumbag says:

      I tried to test a few games on my sister’s 3 year old.
      Keyboard was too big and complex so I gave her a 360 pad. She was more interested in the colours of the buttons on the pad then what was going on onscreen.

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    X_kot says:

    “…a development studio to scream out from beneath the horror of the contract they’d acquired…”

    Given their spin on this title, I’d like to see them do a follow-up to the classic Night Trap.

  9. TheBarringGaffner says:

    I’m just looking forward to the sequel, where she teams up with Closet and fights a makeup-based hivemind.

  10. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    I hate to say this, but while I was reading through this article, I found it quite hilarious to think of a man playing ‘Barbie Dreamhouse’. But I’m pretty sure that ‘It’s worth noting that the game’s absolutely fucking terrible’ tells me all that I need to know about this game (shame that, it was at the top of my christmas list).

    • TWChristine says:

      I think “X should not do Y” is a big problem in our society. Aside from the fact that in this case a grown man is playing the game because of “job,” why would it matter anyway? I happen to know a guy who is about as “manly” as you can get and not only is his favorite color pink, but he plans to go to esthetician school.

      (Fun Fact: Before modern society deemed it “girly,” pink was actually considered a “manly” color, while blue was the feminine color.)

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        Gap Gen says:

        Fun fact: My entire body is a weird shade of pink.

        • TWChristine says:

          Me too! High five!

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          Really? Mine is kind of orange and black stripes with a white splodge on the end of my tail.

          No, wait…that’s a tiger. Mines kind of pink too.

          • Geebs says:

            As a true Englishman, mine is mostly blue and pale green, except in winter when it’s purple around the edges

      • BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

        Oh I know, it just seemed out of character. I wasn’t trying to be cruel or anything, and I know it’s his job to review games. I didn’t think it seemed cruel since it’s probably quite obvious that John didn’t walk into this looking for a fantastic game as a fan of Barbies. Heck, I don’t mind if a guy likes pink. Some can pull it off pretty well, specifically with suits from my experience. Either way, adult men are not the intended demographic for Barbie no matter what sort of equality raising agenda’s you throw at this situation so I thought it was pretty safe. Like a comedian who’s allowed to crack a cruel joke but no one brings up social issues from it, I was treating it like that.

        • TWChristine says:

          I should also probably add that I wasn’t trying to come across like an ass up there (although I think I have a tendency to do that which results in my obnoxious over-use of smilies) :)

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        lurkalisk says:

        Seems pretty vague for a fact, and a little less interesting than fun.
        I’m a miserable pedant, so I must know… What culture exactly? Color significance is far from uniform around the world and throughout time.

    • Niko says:

      If grown-up men made, a grown-up man can play it.

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      melnificent says:

      The only problem with them is their need to sue people that stand in their way.
      They sued the song writers for not allowing them to use the girls song.

      http://www.contactmusic.com/article/beastie-boys-not-suing-goldieblox-but-goldieblox-still-suing-beastie-boys_3971356

      • Didden says:

        In America, being sued comes as standard right?

      • Jupiah says:

        Holy crap that is one insanely biased website. Goldieblox DID NOT sue the Beastie Boys, they filed for declaratory judgement that they had not infringed on the Beastie Boy’s copyright. Declaratory judgements are filed to prevent someone from suing you, typically after they threaten to sue but have not yet filed a lawsuit. The Beastie Boys sent Goldieblox a threatening letter so they filed for declaratory judgement to prevent themselves from being pulled into costly litigation by the Beastie Boys. Any website that somehow twists that into “OMG they sued the Beastie Boys because they wouldn’t let them use their music!” is either completely ignorant or dishonest. Either way you probably shouldn’t be getting your news from them.

    • Marmalade Man says:

      Woo! Pink ribbons and princesses! Finally girls can learn about engineering!

  11. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Top picture is perfection.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Adamustache says:

    Honestly, the TV show of this is oddly entertaining as well.

    • The Random One says:

      One day I turned on the TV and the Barbie TV show was on (I know it’s the same ‘continuity’ as the game because Guitar Playing Douche was also there). I watched it a bit. IT WAS GOOD. Not Adventure Time good (what is?) but I laughed at the jokes and didn’t cringe at any of the characters.

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        Adamustache says:

        Yeah, it seems that the writers had a lot of fun with the Barbie brand and all that comes with it, and it shows.

    • crizzyeyes says:

      Yeah, they seem to have a new wave of writers that have a much cheekier sense of humor. A while ago (over a year, I think) my friends showed me a new Barbie web-series called “Life in the Dreamhouse,” saying that it was somehow entertaining. I guess that took off and what we’re seeing now is the culmination of those writers (but unfortunately not any good game designers or programmers, I guess).

  13. geldonyetich says:

    They probably should have went to EA and asked them to make a Sims 4 Barbie-themed expansion, instead.

    • Listlurker says:

      Ah, but you know EA’s pattern; they attempt to turn everything into a shooter franchise eventually.

      XCOM: The Bureau; the upcoming Plants Versus Zombies spinoff (not even kidding). You can fill in the rest, I’m sure.

      So … Coming Soon! Call Of Barbie: Makeup Ops?

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    Don Reba says:

    I only assume there is neurotoxin involved.

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      lowprices says:

      These days it’s more commonly referred to as Calvin Klein: for Women.

    • solidsquid says:

      Botox probably, it is technically a neurotoxin after all

  15. Tei says:

    After watching the first video I think the footsteps are too loud. You only hear your own footsteps if you are lost in a huge parking lot hiding from a rapist. Really. Footsteps this louds only are audible on a very creeply quiet room.

    Maybe the target public don’t notice.

    I say that DOLLHOUSE is a great (maybe the greatest?) TV sci-fi ever made. Babylon 5 was amazing, but was space opera, and thats a bit too cheap (the earth thing was great, but the mesianic captain was lame). LEXX is amazing, absurd, beatiful, smart, terrible but the latest seasons where beyond terrible, where banal (I don’t know if that words exist). DOLLHOUSE is like crazy hard-sci fi, more crazier and more original that anything you can read about “nanobots”.

    • theallmightybob says:

      sorry buy B5 was far more hard sci-fi then doll house could ever hope to be. Oneal cylinders for space stations. proper physics based star fighters, and a whole host of more realistic Sci-fi elements then doll house.

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    thedosbox says:

    The robot AI is called Closet? So you have to escape from the Closet? Really?

    • RiffRaff says:

      Yea I didn’t really want to go there myself, but given the evidence available I am surprised that nobody else is mentioning that the game is basically saying that barbie is gay.

      Also how big is her bathroom to be able to fit a horse in there, and why does she keep a horse in the bathroom?

      • 00000 says:

        Oh, you know why. *wiggles brows*

      • TWChristine says:

        “Yea I didn’t really want to go there myself, but given the evidence available I am surprised that nobody else is mentioning that the game is basically saying that barbie is gay.”

        Perhaps because it’s not worth bringing up in the “why would this matter” kind of way?

        • RiffRaff says:

          I don’t know, why would sneaking a joke about an iconic girls toy being gay into an official game not be worth bringing up. I didn’t really want to mention it myself because its an extremely outdated joke that brings to mind all kinds of horrible stereotypes, and I think it should have stayed in the 90s where it belongs. But I’m not really into barbie, its possible that they have this sort of message in all their products, so in that situation I can understand that it wouldn’t be worth talking about. I guess everyone else is just better informed about barbie canon than me and thedosbox so that’s why nobody said anything about it.

          • TWChristine says:

            Just my opinion but, I think you answered the question in your first sentence with the statement in your second. If the devs added it in as an easter egg, or just didn’t realize how some people would take the situation, I still don’t see how it becomes something that would need to be talked about. I don’t think Barbie being gay(or bi, considering Ken’s around as well) is something that is canon and therefore known by others hence no one else bringing it up. It just wouldn’t matter, period.
            (Disclosure: As a lesbian maybe I see it differently, I just don’t think the sexuality of Barbie matters enough to be discussed.)

          • RiffRaff says:

            Ok you know what happened here, I am tired and forgot that sarcasm doesn’t work on the internet. I was thrown back by your response as it seemed to imply that I was making a negative comment about people who are gay/lesbian/bi/whichever, so I made a snarky defensive post.

            A persons sexuality isn’t of any interest to me, but barbie isn’t a person and it doesn’t have a sexuality, its a toy and a symbol of a certain lifestyle young girls are pressured into adopting, and the developers of the game (its difficult to see how its not intentional) made a joke about it being gay/bi. This is worth talking about because of the social commentary involved, you could for example see it as a slight encouragement to young girls that its ok to not want to pair barbie with the ken doll. But considering how easily the barbie setup could be twisted into some very offensive stereotypes it could also be seen in a negative way, which is part of the reason why the joke made me uncomfortable, the other reason stated above.

            All that stuff about canon was a joke, I wasn’t being serious about that, nobody could be serious about canon for children’s toys.

        • Premium User Badge

          thedosbox says:

          “Perhaps because it’s not worth bringing up in the “why would this matter” kind of way?”

          You are correct that it doesn’t matter. I’m just surprised such a blatant reference is in the game. It’s particularly amusing given Mattel’s previous “lesbian barbie” history.

    • crizzyeyes says:

      Pretty sure what they were going for is that the AI is “gay” (going by the stereotypically effeminate announcer voice in the video, assuming that’s the AI’s voice), which is a joke in itself since AIs don’t tend to have sexual orientation. I don’t think Barbie’s sexuality was ever meant to be commented on.

  17. Viscera says:

    While I don’t think that it was intentioned by everyone, I can imagine that the voice actors were sarcastic. I mean, who wouldn’t be, if they were forced to say shallow, meaningless lines in a dumb game based on an idiotic, stereotype-celebrating toy line that still refuses to die, even though it should have done so decades ago? As I see it, there is now way they couldn’t say these lines sarcastically.

    Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone on the development team thought like that. Would explain things, at least.

    I have to say, though, they managed to get the characters look faithful. It’s really like plastic dolls that awoke to life, in all their lively deadness.

    • gwathdring says:

      The thing is … irony is an essential part of acting. You don’t always feel what you say. That’s inevitable. To really say a line or write a line sarcastically has a slightly higher bar in the world of acting than it does outside of it. You can’t just not mean it or not be into it or laugh and cry when the microphone is turned off. The scale might be different, but there’s a bit of that on every single project. The lines themselves don’t sound sarcastic to me. It’s just so … mind-blowingly banal. There has to be some artistic intent to sabotage or fill with noticeably (subtle or not) insincerity for me to really call it sarcastic though.

      It’s somewhat closed minded to decide that just because it’s so boring and absurd and dumb OF COURSE they tried to sabotage it with bleak insincerity. It’s like an actor doing TV commercials–it pays the bills and even if you don’t like it or think it’s dumb sometimes you play along and put on a smile and roll with it.

      That said, they DO have to escape from an evil robot called Closet? Which could be a joke? But it’s hard to tell; I would not be surprised if it was a dumb oversight, either. It’s impressive the kinds of stuff that can fly under the radar unintentionally when you just don’t give a shit. Also it might have been a joke that they left in and forgot about. You never know.

  18. faelnor says:

    Those conversations remind me of the over-the-top dialogue of the students at the psychics’ camp in Psychonauts.

  19. gwathdring says:

    Whoa, that seems sarcastic to you? Sorry to burst your optimism bubble but that video sounds like every Barbie commercial ever. And most awful kids shows I cruise past while flipping channels.

    There’s this disconcerting area of media in between the lovely Sesame Street type thing and young adult media where kids are given really dumb, banal crap that’s beneath their imaginativeness and comprehension–and not banal in the Gossip Girl sort of way or the adult sitcom kind of way. Not banal purely by virtue of bad writing. But just … absolutely nothing happens, everyone talks like the target audience is cats or toddlers, absolutely nothing makes sense, and it doesn’t even not-make-sense in the good Adventure Time or Seasame Street or Muppets or Monty Python sort of absurdist/surrealist way.

    All the more reason to hoard my Winnie the Pooh VHS tapes in case I ever have kids. At least there will always be Sesame Street, Muppets, and Winnie the Pooh. There’s also plenty of great feature length kids films both old and new. Adventure Time and Gravity Falls are odd because I can’t quite figure out what their general age/maturity level of entry is like I can with the Muppets, but that caveat aside they make exceptional “all ages” entertainment. Quality stuff. I just wish more of there was more middleware in between mastercraft like The Muppets and shovelware like Barbie. I also wish there was less horrifying shit like Boohbah.

    • Fiatil says:

      Yeah, I’ve got to agree. Sadly that first video doesn’t seem any different from any other barbie products or advertising I’ve seen. That’s just how terrible it is.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      I suppose it’s easy for sincere to blow a gasket and swing right round to ironic. See Monty Python sending up the more ridiculous parts of British society by making them even more “serious”.

  20. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    This reminded me 50% of the inevitable episode of a Joss Whedon show where everybody gets hypnotised/mind controlled/whatever into being creepy-as-hell, overly cheerful 50s Stepford Wives types, and 50% of what you might make for kids if you had never encountered humans and were basing your assumptions on a third generation photocopy of an outdated tome that had been badly translated into Martian.

    In conclusion, 7/10

  21. Memph says:

    No TressFX, no buy.

  22. Freud says:

    This kicking should teach those open doors a lesson.

  23. Lanfranc says:

    So someone finally got around to making a game about Sartre’s Huis Clos, eh? Must admit I didn’t expect them to use Barbie as a setting, but in hindsight I suppose it should have been obvious.

  24. Phoibos Delphi says:

    There even are gamer profiles on steam stating that their owners have played this… this… thing for more than sixty hours. John will have to speed up, or he will be left behind in the endgame.

  25. ngocmai9791 says:

    Complaining about it won’t change anything friv hot game,tin tức giải trí

  26. ThePragmaticNihilist says:

    I’m so bad. I misread the little bit about Barbie’s friends in the bathroom mini-game as “washing and blowing horses.”

  27. Porpentine says:

    i cant believe someone made the sequel to cyberqueen

    • TheBarringGaffner says:

      Oh god, if Porpentine did a twine game based on Barbie Dreamhouse Party, my life would be complete.

  28. Grover says:

    In middle school my class was visited by a group fighting against body image issues. This was all a decade of so ago. They brought what they called a “life-sized Barbie doll”. This thing, built of realistic fake skin – the kind they use in prosthetics – was intentionally deformed to be as gaunt and ghoulish as possible, with a famine victim frame, enormous, sunken, staring eyes, a dead mop of nylon ‘hair’ that didn’t perch on the skull right, long skeletal fingers terminating in long red needle-nails and a mouth drawn into a disturbing smile showing too many teeth that were too long. They could stand her up and pose her, make the head bob in time to some unheard music.

    Just thought I’d share what I once forgot but just now remembered.I doubt any one will see this, but thanks for stirring the memories, RPS.

  29. Runic says:

    Yet another “I was forced to do X in game bohoo” -style of article. What’s the idea here, should every game be a freeroaming sandbox? Sometimes games force you to do things, big deal. Get used to it, it will never change no matter what you say.

    • Groove says:

      Your idea of video games sounds like an abusive marriage.

      • Runic says:

        And yours obviously ignorant to reality, I guess.

        • Groove says:

          Are you acting angry because I used a serious subject to make fun of your post or just because I made fun of your post?

          Is this article really complainging about the game not offering choice? And also, is that kind of article really a problem? I don’t recall seeing much like that. People complain about following people around in modern shooters but that’s not really because they’re forced to do it, it’s because it’s a) boring, and b) not what they hoped to be doing. They didn’t advertise CoD as guns, espionage and following dudes around. Similarly, AC3 didn’t list itself as killing, free-running and sofa manufacturing.

          Your post sounds like you’d argue against choice in games, but you don’t say why. The obvious argument against choice is so a tighter structure can be provided in terms of narative or mechanics, but this game has neither a real story or any actual game mechanics and by proxy you seem to be defending it?

          Also, more and more games are aping sandbox styles or offering players choice. So…things are changing no matter what you say? Really this is why I had to make fun of your post, because it made no sense at all.

          • Runic says:

            There is, in general, a tone in RPS “articles” where they seem to fight and complain about all restrictions regarding freedom of choice.

            There will always be games where you will be forced to things, and that’s never going to change. Don’t know what regarding that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s quite obvious.

          • The Random One says:

            I don’t see any complaints in John’s “article” that he is forced to do things. His only complaint was that the things the game wanted him to do were boring. He says that he’s forced by Pink GladOS into different rooms and limited to the minigames there as explanation, not complaint.

            The claim made in your “comment” makes me thing that this “trend” you have “noticed” is entirely in your “head”.

          • Groove says:

            “There is, in general, a tone in RPS “articles” where they seem to fight and complain about all restrictions regarding freedom of choice.”

            The part that doesn’t make sense to me is why you think this would be a problem?

  30. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    If this game doesn’t make the 2013 RPS Calendar I’m gonna cancel my subscription, you hear me?

  31. elysrum says:

    Is it wrong that the first thing that jumps into my mind is Demon Seed and not GLaDOS??

    Do we get little robotic barbies at any point?

  32. Yglorba says:

    That picture at the top is just perfect. I love how the expression on Barbie’s black best friend perfectly captures a sense of “trying to be as polite as possible because I am terrified that this insane closet-based AI is going to kill us all if I don’t.”

  33. Premium User Badge

    Jonfon says:

    My 6 year old must never, ever find out about this. The existence of this game dies with us (although I bet Nickelodeon will give the game away).

    She’ll just have to stick with Grand Theft Auto and Call of Doody, like a normal child.

  34. Ergates_Antius says:

    “But it also features Barbie’s on-again off-again love interest, Ken, another ladyfriend upstairs, and some dickhole…”
    First 3/4 of this sentence I thought we were going somewhere…else.

  35. The Magic says:

    Okay, probably wont be read, but must be said. Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse is flippin’ hilarious. this game? i dunno, haven’t played it, but the show is fantastic. Also closet is literally what he looks and sounds like. He’s HAL, and he has endless fashion knowledge within him. He was made by ken, because. Also the guy in leather… yeah you kinda got his personality right, but the way they play him in the show is fantastic… seriously. the show’s super good. Go watch it. And yeah, the dreamhouse totally has big metal shutter doors that closet can use when his evil button is turned on.

  36. amberpsiefert says:

    m being thankful.. Google is paying 75$/hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. On sunday I bought themselves a Alfa Romeo from having made $5637 this month. its the best-job Ive ever had.It sounds unbelievable
    but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out….. http://goo.gl/iITlPP