11/30/2021»»Tuesday

Barbie Detective Game

11/30/2021

There are a variety of games I was considering critiquing for this post, from Shadow of the Colossus, Mario Sunshine and Legend of Zelda Wind Waker but upon reflection I think the game that has really stuck with me is Detective Barbie: Mystery of the Carnival Caper.

Despite any preconceived notions one might have about a game staring a sugary sweet, superficial, plastic, commercial, action figure doll—Detective Barbie: Mystery of the Carnival Caper is a dark game. The premise of this game—similarly in Gone Home— is that Barbie, our main character, has just completed her time abroad at the Detective Academy. When she returns home, there is a carnival in town which her boyfriend, the illustrious, built and mildly dimwitted Ken is financially in charge of. At the carnival, Ken and the money raised for charity, disappear as a result of a magician’s act. This forces Barbie to search for her missing boyfriend, the money and the person responsible for their disappearance.

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Unlike a majority of games “geared towards young girls” at the time, this was a game where the player (and main female character), has real agency.

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I think one of the strongest elements of this game is it’s characterization of Barbie and its ability to build tension through the music and the slow pacing of gameplay. Never in this game do you dress up Barbie, or clean or cook as other games would have you do. Instead, you are constantly going from scene to scene, gathering clues, interviewing suspects and chasing (really the chase scenes were incredibly riveting in this game) the villain as you the go from area to area searching for clues from the disappearance using your handy magnifying glass piece together the mystery of the shadowy man responsible for Ken’s disappearance.

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The unsightly characters, the haunting music and the eerie handprints and footprints that appear through the scenes really work to build the dark tone and atmosphere.

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  • Barbie detective games, barbie detective games - There's a mystery to be solved, but fear not, Debbie's on the case. Help her use her good looks, amazing style and detective powers to catch the crook!
  • Detective Barbie was, of course, a game aimed at young girls and, critically speaking, nothing to write home about.

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As a child, this game really struck a sense of horror in me, and now, whenever I hear the haunting music of a carnival, my blood turns to ice.

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Oh, Ken.