IGN Review of Imagine: Wedding Designer
There are few events in our modern world as celebrated and revered as the traditional American wedding ceremony. The wedding industry rakes in hundreds of billions of dollars every year and is showing no sign of slowing any time soon. Being the financially practical individual that I am, I look at these brides-to-be spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on their wedding dress alone and I can't help but shake my head and ask this one simple question: why am I not getting in on this action? Luckily Ubisoft, understanding my need to dive headfirst into the figurative cash cow that is the wedding, has released Imagine: Wedding Designer – a new Nintendo DS title putting players right in the shoes of the ceremonial ring leader: the wedding designer.
For those unfamiliar with Ubisoft's Imagine franchise, it's basically a series of titles acting as a cross between a traditional game and a job simulator. Each title has a specific occupational focus – whether it is fashion design, movie stardom or ballet dancing – and translates that specific field into a series of related game-oriented tasks. This game/simulation approach is beneficial because the two disparate approaches to design often compensate for one another. If the simulation aspects are lacking, for example, at least there's a solid game structure to make up for it. Lackluster gameplay likewise isn't as big of a deal as it otherwise would be simply because the simulation portion is intriguing enough to hold player interest.
The problem with Wedding Designer, however, is that neither half of the equation is handled particularly well. Wedding Designer as a game is boring and unchallenging; Wedding Designer as a simulation is inaccurate and ridiculous. As a result, the whole package feels rushed and extremely underdeveloped.
The game portion of Wedding Designer revolves around a string of wedding related decisions leading up to the big ceremony. There are six brides to cater to, each with their own personalities and preferences. The game provides you with a PDA to keep track of this information, but in all honesty none of it is necessary when planning the weddings. As players make their way around town – jumping from locations such as the stationary store, music store and boutique – the bride follows, smiling for decisions she approves of and frowning at those that she doesn't. Once the player realizes this, the challenge disappears immediately. By simply choosing those items the bride smiles at, the perfect wedding is a foregone conclusion.
To further illustrate this point, I'll include a helpful walkthrough that will ensure glowing reviews from all of your clients. Step one: use the stylus to click on an object. Step two: look at the bride's face. Step three: if she's smiling, move on to the next group of objects. If she's not, return to step one and repeat the process. This short FAQ will get you through the entire game – which is only an hour and a half, anyway.
The smile tactic even supercedes the preferences included in the bride's PDA information. A bride may insist in her profile that a beach wedding is essential, but if she smiles at the church when you're making booking decisions the wedding can still go off without a hitch. It's instances like this where the game throws its own rules right out the window, making itself impossible to enjoy on even the most casual of levels.
The simulation aspects of Wedding Designer are equally lacking. In an effort to create more choices for the player, the developers have dramatically expanded the responsibilities of the traditional wedding designer. Take, for example, the fact that it's now the wedding designer's job to not only plan the wedding proper but decorate the interior of the bride's house and even dress her in her non-wedding, casual attire. Other designer responsibilities get even more ridiculous and inaccurate. For instance, I'll admit that I've never been married, but it was still quite a shock to find out that the wedding designer actually chooses the groom.
And here I thought the bride had to supply that on her own.
Once the wedding is all planned and the groom has been pieced together by selecting various facial features – eyes, mouth, eyebrows, jaw line – the glorious ceremony begins. Wedding Designer forces its players at this point to watch the entire process, a two-minute cutscene full of stiff animations, blocky character models and low-quality music. The decisions you've made throughout the process are reflected here, but even with these variations the fixed, uncontrollable camera angles ensure you'll want to skip these scenes before the first one has even concluded.
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