Imagine: Figure Skater Nintendo DS Retro Videogame Review

With the 2018 Winter Olympics well under way, I’ve been thinking a lot about games and anime (such as Yuri on Ice which I reviewed here) that showcases the dedication that a skater must possess. I remembered fondly an NDS game from “a few” years ago that I played that allowed you to take on the life of a professional skater, competing in various events, training, dating, and dealing with drama.

This game, as it turns out, was Imagine: Figure Skater for the Nintendo DS. The game first came out in 2008 (at least in North America), making it “retro” by my definition (I consider anything greater than 10 years old to be retro.)  I’m thinking about digging out my cartridge and playing it again this weekend. I’ve also been thinking about rewatching Yuri!! on Ice.

Imagine Figure Skater Nintendo DS Otome Olympic Ice Skating Game

Imagine Figure Skater Nintendo DS Otome Olympic Ice Skating Game

First, you might look at the box art for this game, and think it is for little girls. — Not true! The original boxart in Japan was much better – featuring anime style artwork. Why they went with a photograph of an iceskater on the US version, I dunno. They should have aimed it at anime/otome fans, but this was 10 years ago, before otome games had much foothold in the US.

Gamestop has the game in-stock for just $0.99 cents! – If you have a powerups reward card, Even better, you can grab it for just $0.79 cents!!! OMG… Go, go, go!! If you like anime, ice skating, dating sims, or otome games, it will be the best 99 (or 79) cents you could spend today. Click here to buy it before it’s gone.

There’s also apparently a sequel to this game, called Imagine: Ice Champions. I have not played the sequel yet, but Gamestop has it for just $1.59.

Imagine: Ice Champions Nintendo DS Olympic Ice Skating Otome Dating Game

Imagine: Ice Champions Nintendo DS Olympic Ice Skating Otome Dating Game

These games were perhaps too ahead of their times – with the relatively recent popularity of Yuri!! on Ice, and increased representation of Otome Games in the United States, I wonder how a sequel for Nintendo Switch would fare these days, if marketed properly. Why try to forcefully create an audience, when there already exists a large audience begging publishers for such games. Do your research and understand your target audience better.

Most of us are 20+ years old, otaku/anime fans, and would rather buy the original box art on the right, than that which was designed for the US on the left. This alienated most of your “built in audience” while trying to build a new audience with younger girls.

Thankfully the art in the actual game is fully done in an anime and kawaii style which could appeal to either audience.

Now on to the review!!

Scorecard:

Title: Imagine: Figure Skating

Developer: Spike

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platform: Nintendo DS

Genre: Career/Life Simulation Game with Dressup Game, Dating Sim and Otome Game aspects

Where to Buy: Gamestop has both of these for about $0.79 and $1.99. Check out the links above.

Geeky: 5/5 – Gameplay is solid, the graphics are a little bit pixelated, but that’s probably just limitations of the software of the time ten years ago. Gameplay using the stylus to perform ice skating moves is both fun and challenging. It offered high replay value too with different girls to play as and different events and dialogue options. It gave a good look at what skaters go thru when training. If you enjoy watching the Winter Olympics, or enjoy anime such as Yuri!! On Ice, then you will enjoy this game!

Sweetie: 5/5 – This game has a little bit of everything, all in one very cute package! Ice Skating is beautiful and elegant and as you compete you unlock new areas to explore, new outfits to wear, and you interact with friends, lovers, and rivals. It has a good dose of comedy, slice of life, drama, and surprise.

Overall: 59/70 84% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Imagine: Figure Skater Nintendo DS Retro Game Review

Imagine: Figure Skater Nintendo DS Retro Game Review

Gameplay: 10/10 – Gameplay is where Imagine: Figure Skating really shines! When the game starts, you select one of three girls, each with her own strengths and weaknesses both on and off the ice. From there you’re whisked away to a tutorial where you get to try skating for the very first time.

Do well and advance through various qualifying rounds improving your skill and technique. You will earn money to buy new outfits and get to travel to compete in new arenas and unlock new events.

When not on the ice, you will go to school, work part time jobs, go on dates, or spend time with your friends. Rivals will show up both on and off the ice too which add to the story.

You skate by using the Nintendo DS stylus on the lower touch screen. You perform jumps and spins and get scored for each of your routines. As you play and complete your training, you will unlock more advanced moves to add to your routine.

You have complete control over designing your own ice skating routines. You select your outfits, music, and choreograph your routines to progress through the game and ultimately guide your character to the nationals.

Imagine: Figure Skating Nintendo DS Anime Games for Girls

Imagine: Figure Skating Nintendo DS Anime Games for Girls

Story: 7/10 This game, just like Yuri!! On Ice, does an excellent job portraying the struggles and triumphs of those training for life as a professional or Olympic figure skater. Just like Yuri!!! On Ice, Imagine: Figure skating has that tantalizing blend of romance and rivalry both on and off the ice. It also showcases themes such as platonic friendship, family, travel, adventure, and sportsmanship. Storywise though, this game comes no where close to generating the same emotions and reactions in its audience compared to the beloved Yuri!! On Ice, which has been countless praised by real figure skaters for its realistic portrayal of events and memorable characters.

Characters: 8/10 The characters are cute! I loved the dressup aspects and loved having multiple girls to choose from when starting the game. I loved how this game draws you into the life of the characters, showing you moments of their life both on and off the ice. I didn’t quite connect with them as emotionally and deeply as I had hoped to. This is also probably why the story felt a bit flat.

Graphics: 7/10 – The graphics are a bit outdated, but there’s so many options for costumes and the ability to pick different girls is great. The girls are all so cute.

Imagine: Figure Skater Dressup Game

Imagine: Figure Skater Dressup Game

Music: 7/10 – I feel like almost everything about this game, is about a solid 7, it’s good, but not great. The great gameplay though makes up for the rather “average” other details. I’d say the music is fine, but ultimately far from memorable.

Replay Value: 10/10 – With different girls and different outcomes along with the ability to customize just about everything, this game has very high replay value.

Overall: 59/70 84% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

If you enjoyed Imagine: Figure Skating and Imagine: Champions on Ice, you may also like the other Imagine Games which you can view here. You may also like Princess Debut, which I love and plan to review shortly. There’s also a game called Princess on Ice that you may enjoy – I have not played that one just yet myself.

Imagine: Figure Skater Nintendo DS Retro Videogame Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Romantic Diary Anime Otome Dressup Game Dating Sim with Cooking and Crafting

I just discovered, Romantic Diary, an anime Otome Dating Sim which is part Dressup Game, part Visual Novel, part Cooking Game, and has an extensive crafting system. At the core, this game looks quite similar to Hello Nikki! Which I reviewed here. However, it seems to have more robust features, and a heavier emphasis on story telling and dating elements. It’s also a “Stat-Raising” game similar to Princess Maker (which I reviewed here) or Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here).

Are you thinking about playing this game? If so please use my friend code (input it later after the tutorial at the “friend” screen). We’ll both get free stuff! ❤ Use Invite Code: 82477180

Title: Romantic Diary

Price: Free

Platforms: IOS and Android

Where To Get Romantic Diary:

Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/…

Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com…

Genre: Otome Visual Novel Dating Sim (With Stat-Raising Sim elements)

Publisher: NGames Interactive

Geeky:  3/5 – Technically speaking, this game is more advanced than about 95% of other Otome Dating Sims. It uses Live 2D to make the characters fully animated on dates, like Ensemble Stars or NekoPara. It also has much more to offer than just “dating” or “just dressup”.

Sweetie:  5/5 – One of the cutest games you’ll ever play.

Overall: 78 / 90 87% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This is fast becoming one of my favorite mobile games because of the wide variety of things to do from dressing up yourself, or one of several boys. It has full voice acting, and uses Live 2D to bring the characters “to life” – It has sky high production values. But not only that, but it’s a ton of fun. You can cook sweets to give to the boys to boost their affection, or plan a date by selecting different locations. You can work part time to earn in game currency, or study different subjects to boost your stats which helps unlock new event scenes, jobs, or even new guys to meet. There’s TONS of in game events too, which makes you want to keep playing, and an interesting story too.

Gameplay: 10/10 This game is unlike any of the other “dressup” games out there – it’s also equally different than some of the voltage/ntt solomare/kyonplete etc visual novels which have “dressup” components to them. This is more like a brand new genre of gaming that balances both dressup challenge type gameplay, with otome multiple ending/branching plot gameplay, as well as throwing in “Stat-Raising” gameplay ala Princess Maker or Tokimeki Memorial. It really captures several of my favorite genres here.

The basics of gameplay begin in “Story Mode” – here each “level” will present a new dressup challenge. You’re given hints at each level as to what to wear to pass to the next stage. For example you might be asked to wear “Pretty and Pure” clothes or “Mature and Sexy” or “Casual Streetwear” or “vintage” just to name a few. The different items you can get in the game all have these different traits (Once again like Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side), and when combined, you can create different looks. At the end you’re scored on how well you met the requirements. As you progress, you learn more about the strange fantasy world and explore deeper the character backgrounds and story.

But Gameplay doesn’t stop in story mode, it’s only beginning. From the main menu you have many different options, from cooking sweets, to tailoring or upgrading your own clothes, to dating, to playing various daily minigames to earn free items.

Story Mode helps you unlock new recipes for cooking or tailoring your clothes. (PS: the cooking and tailoring modes don’t open until later in story mode). Story mode is also how you meet new guys to date. As you play you keep unlocking new ways to play the game, making it an exciting and fresh experience on multiple playthroughs.

It even has a Skinship feature on the dates. If you don’t know what Skinship is, you might’ve heard about the recent controversy and removal of Skinship from Fire Emblem Fates which I covered in a news article here. But if you haven’t heard, Skinship is a concept common in many Japanese dating games, in which as your affection grows between you and the characters, you can “try your luck” at “petting” them in different parts of their body, stomach, arms, hair, face, lips, ear, etc. But if you are too bold or too forward, the affection will decrease, but if you are “petting” appropriately, it helps you bond with the character and thus, your affection will increase.

There is really a lot of things to do! You could play this game for hours a day, or devote as little as 20 minutes a day to collect your login bonus and free items for the day. It’s up to you.

Story: 7/10 – I think the story is cute, and SURPRISINGLY the translation is NOT terrible – I say surprisingly because if you look at their googleplay or itunes app store page…. their English is VERY poor. They must have outsourced the game’s translation or hired an editor though because there is little beyond minor typos which you see in almost all games with heavy text.

The story itself is about a girl (you) who is summoned into another world. When she first arrives, she can’t speak the language or understand what is happening. A young man casts a spell on her so that she may understand the native language of the world, and another young man begins helping her collect emblems as she begins life in the new world a “transfer student” in a magical school.

You learn that by helping others with their problems or concerns, you can extract magic shards from them which are causing their anxiety (and also which are valuable in this new world.) The events in the story focus on helping others and learning about why you’ve been summoned to the strange magic world.

Characters: 7/10 The characters are cute, both how they are drawn, as well as their personalities. There’s also ample character depth and progression as you increase affection with the different guys and turn that Tsundere or Shy boy into hopeless romantics for you lol. The characters also have unique fantasy elements to them, such as the main “cannon” character being an “elf” which is similar to a “druid” in that he can shapeshift – and sometimes not always “at will” similar to anime such as Fruits Basket or Ranma 1/2.

Graphics: 10/10 — I love this game’s graphics. Dozens of dressup options, high customization, you can make your own makeup, and combine different pieces of clothing, from dresses, to stockings, shoes, hair styles, hats, purses, jewelry, and more. Things have a soft, sweet, “dreamlike” vibe, and lots of pinks are used making it super cute and girly. Plus, as I mentioned, when you enter the dates, the game uses Live 2D which is a relatively new technology that can create fully animated models which appear 2D or anime like. — This sets it apart from other games which just use still images, which still, unfortunately, is the norm for almost all games of this type.

Music: 7/10: There’s a lot of cute and catchy tunes in this app, but a lot of them do get reused pretty often.

Voice Acting: 9/10 The game has the original voice acting in tact. I could be wrong, but I think it’s Chinese voice acting? It’s definitely not Japanese. It may be Korean, I dunno — That said, regardless of what it is, it’s highly expressive and further helps bring the characters to life. I deducted a point (maybe somewhat unfairly) because I didn’t like a few of the voices, but I’m not overly used to hearing Chinese (or whatever language this is). I just felt some of the voices were a little “jarring” on my nerves. Might just take some getting used to though. At least they kept the voice acting in so yay. Similar games such as Hello Nikki were originally fully voiced, and the voices removed for US release, so I really appreciate that this game kept the voices in tact.

Replay Value: 10/10 – I’ve said throughout this review, but the multitude of different things to do, from cooking, crafting, dating, minigames, dressup, questing, and in game limited time events, and of course exploring the story, keeps you wanting to play each day. This game is a huge time sink, but an enjoyable one!

Overall: 78 / 90 87% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Romantic Diary Anime Otome Dressup Game Dating Sim with Cooking and Crafting was originally published on Geeky Sweetie