Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups Wii
Published by: THQ
Developed by: Game Machine Studios
Take the Barbie licence and attach it to a rather weak take on Nintendogs and what you have is Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups. In Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups you'll be taught how to look after your own puppy. There are six breeds to choose from: Pomeranian, Samoyed, Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise although when you first play the game you'll only be able to choose the Pomeranian or Samoyed.
You can groom your dog, visit the boutique and train your dog. To groom your dog you'll brush, wash, and trim them in addition to actions such as stroking their tummy. All of these actions will increase your dog's happiness but it seems rather odd that you can't choose what activity to do as it's chosen for you. There's too much hand holding when grooming your dog as Barbie will always tell you what needs to be done and whilst this is initially useful it soon becomes annoying.
If you want to purchase cute and adorable outfits for your dog, and it is completely optional, you'll have to visit the boutique. You'll begin with $200 to spend and there are some items that you can have free of charge. Barbie will tell you what each section is called (and this isn't subtitled). The hat symbol for is hats and headpieces, collar symbol for collars, glasses symbol for glasses, top symbol for tops and t-shirts, bow symbol for tail accessories and butterfly symbol for costumes.
Probably the most interesting location in the game is the training area. Tricks are divided into three areas: actions, poses and skills. Initially there are only a few one star tricks available in each section. To perform a trick you'll have to move the Wii remote in a specific fashion (and there's a visual indication of this in the bottom right of the screen). The amount of actions you'll do with the Wii remote does seem rather limited however and it's not long before tedium starts to creep in. You can reward your dog with a treat for completing a trick and this also have the benefit of making him happier.
It's necessary for your dog to learn tricks to take part in performances where you'll earn money to spend in the boutique. There are three types of performance: Runway Show, Dance Event and Photo Shoot. In Runway Show your dog will walk down a catwalk and on entering a trick zone you'll be told what trick to perform (which you'll do by moving the Wii remote in the required fashion as in the training). Dance Events require you to pick one of the four music tracks and choose what six tricks you want your dog to perform and in what particular order. The tricks are carried out automatically so it's crucial that your dog has been practising them in training. In the Photo Shoot performance you'll get to take photos of your dog doing tricks. Each shoot allows you to take five photos and you'll get to customise the photo studio to enable the photos to looks as good as possible.
The notebook section allows you to access all of the information for your dogs. You'll be able to see what achievements they have and how happy they are. You'll also be able to see what photos you've taken. It's important to remember that you can change your dog at any time and select any additional breeds you may have unlocked. Picking a different dog means you'll have to completely retrain them however. It's worth mentioning that each breed has its own special trick that can be learned when they have a comprehensive repertoire of tricks but whether you'll want to go through the motions multiple times just to see each dog's special trick is questionable.
The game's presentation is mostly OK. Graphically Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups gets the job done but the visual quality of the game and its animations can be regarded as basic. Some of the load times in the game can be a little on the lengthy side. Thankfully the game is mostly fine when it comes to its suitability for deaf gamers. The game is subtitled and all of the essential information is shown in text. During performances the trick names you have to perform are given verbally only but you'll know what to do because of the Wii remote animations that are shown on screen. Barbie's comments during performances are not subtitled. There are no captions for the noises that your dog makes (such as barking and sniffing) but that's hardly a problem. Visual indicators make you aware of how to move the Wii remote during the various activities such as brushing and performing tricks.
As we said at the top of the review, this is rather a weak take on the Nintendo's Nintendogs with the Barbie licence applied. I'm not sure what appeal this game will have for all of those little girls who are enthusiastic about Barbie but it's a fair bet that whilst quite a few will be attracted by the Barbie moniker on the box, not many will get any long term value from the game. The game doesn't have enough in it to keep you coming back for more. The cycle of grooming, learning tricks, performances and visiting the boutique wears pretty thin within just a few short play sessions and even the presence of Barbie in the game can do nothing to disguise the fact.