If you haven’t been paying attention, the Barbie doll that you grew up with has been branching into new areas of late. This beautiful doll has now developed a personality of her own and has recently been found expressing herself in the form of classic fairy tales and Tchaikovsky ballets including Barbie as Rapunzel, Barbie in The Nutcracker and most recently Barbie of Swan Lake. All of these were released in a video format but, being a woman of the 21ST centaury, Barbie has also begun to make her mark on gaming industry with related CD-ROM releases.
The Barbie of Swan Lake computer game begins where the video left off with Lila, the purple unicorn accidentally unleashing sinister forces that once again rob the enchanted forest of its wonder and magic. It is up to your child to restore the magic to the forest in time for the midnight picnic on the shores of Swan Lake. Odette (played by Barbie) and Lila are along to guide and narrate your child’s adventure through the enchanted forest.
The overall goal of the adventure is to create five different magic wands that are used to restore the beauty and magic to the forest. One wand is created in each of five different forest locations by collecting ingredients, mixing potions and clicking on the potions in the correct sequence. Once the magic wand has been created, it is used throughout the forest locations to restore the magic to that portion of the enchanted forest. This plays to Barbie’s traditional strength by allowing your child to mix and match the different forest elements to create a custom scene each time around.
There is also a secondary task to perform in each area of the enchanted forest involving problem solving with an artistic theme such as painting a picture, finding musical flowers that all play the same tune or populating a an island with forest creatures then de-scrambling their mixed up reflection in Swan Lake.
Once the magic has been restored to the enchanted forest and the other tasks have been completed, it’s on to the moonlight picnic where your child can use the five wands to enchant the picnic grounds as well as provide festive outfits for Odette and Lila. A sixth wand allows your child to change the scene from day to night and back again. Of course once the scene is complete, your child can print a full color copy as a keepsake of her adventures.
This game is recommended to ages five and up but my 3 + -year old was able to master the game with some help from her parents and was equally captivated. The animation, audio and playability have significantly improved since Barbie as Rapunzel and are also exceptionally high quality compared to other children’s games. The overall plot and game structure have also matured, expanding from Barbie’s traditional role of dress-up and decoration into more adventure and active problem solving.
In this day and age when it is important that children acquire computer skills along with the traditional educational skills, it is excellent to see a software product aimed a drawing the girls into the world of computers. The long history that Barbie has had with girls throughout the ages has been masterfully melded with the world of multi-media to create a computing environment where girls finally feel comfortable in creating and solving problems in the company of their timeless friend, Barbie.