Nintendo DS – Imagine Series
My Secret World is the latest in a long line of Imagine games released for the Nintendo DS. The series seems to be just getting started with more titles than you can, well … imagine.
In 2007, four Imagine games were released. It was about Happy Cooking, Fashion Designer, Pet Veterinarian and Babies. Four games in a series is quite unusual in video games, but the developers of the Imagine series, Ubisoft, were heating up.
In 2008, they released 11 almost incredible new games for the series. These Imagine titles were; Figure Skater, Girl Band, Teacher, My Secret World, Nannies, Baby Club, Fashion Model, Modern Dancer, New York Fashion Designer, Champion Rider and Pet Hospital.
Wait, that’s not all. Before the end of 2008 they plant to release 7 more. The next 7 Imagine titles are; Party Babyz, Interior Designer, Wedding Designer, Gymnast, Movie Start, Ballet Star and Fashion Party.
18 games of a series in a single year is unheard of. Even with Nintendo seemingly releasing every second title as a Mario game, it still doesn’t come close to this. So why are so many Imagine games released in such a short time?
Ubisoft is targeting the female audience of video game players that until recently weren’t very well served. This hasn’t just been a case of game developers being sexist. Many game developers have tested game targets on women, but sales just haven’t made it a profitable company.
The Nintendo DS has for the first time succeeded in attracting a more uniform audience of men and women. This has been achieved through the production of games like Nintendogs, which focuses on a topic that is considered less male-oriented. Since the Nintendo DS has succeeded where others have not, Ubisoft has set a goal of capitalizing on the large proportion of female DS owners.
While video games tend to focus on adventures and battles, casual gamers tend to be more drawn to more realistic situations. For example, in Imagine: Teacher, the player assumes the role of a teacher, rather than leading an army or raiding graves. Others in the Imagine series are not really what you would consider a game. My Secret World for DS is more of an interactive journal with personality tests than a game.
You might wonder how high the quality of these games is, as many are being produced in such a short time. The games certainly do not give the appearance of a rushed work with attractive and unique interfaces in each one. However, the game feels shallow and repetitive.
You could say that the Imagine series relies more on its theme, cute graphics, packaging, and ad campaign than on its playability. It certainly seems that the series is successful but it does not have great reviews. Video game review website IGN claims that Imagine: Teacher is the best of the series yet still only rates it 7.5 out of 10, while others score even lower with Imagine: Rockstar winning just 3.2 out of 10.