Imagine Babies is a babysitting simulator from Ubisoft – Will it fill you with joy or send you into a tantrum?
Let's be clear from the start, Imagine Babies (or Imagine Babyz in the US) is about being a babysitter and not about answering the common childhood mystery of where babies actually come from (they are delivered by storks, by the way). Another title in the Imagine series, designed to appeal to little girls. The game casts you in the role of Grannies granddaughter, who is looking after the house while Granny spends her inheritance on a worldwide tour. Now, it turns out that Granny was something of an expert babysitter and you are going to have to continue running her business while she is away. Luckily the neighbourhood is full of the kind of irresponsible parents who will leave their kids with anyone as long as the price is right.
Your first customer, the sinister looking Mrs Stick, leaves you with little Ella right after the game starts. Taking her into the playroom there are a number of mini games you can play with her and the other babies to try and keep them amused. Rattles can be, well, rattled, spinning tops spun and noisy "critter boxes" must be played in the right order to produce sounds that are to babies liking. The early mini-games aren't that special but they do fit in with the context of the game, after all, shaking a rattle at a baby was never that taxing.
Should baby become agitated, he or she will need rocking, this involves another mini-game whereby you must time your taps on the touch screen as a ball moves along an arc. Frustratingly, you must tap the opposite end of the arc compared to where the ball is and this is the only time we can remember our own hand getting in the way of the touch screen while playing the DS.
Whenever you're not sure what to do next, you can go tap on the chimney and ask the friendly stork for advice. Usually he will tell you what's wrong with the baby. Hungry babies require feeding from a pot of snot-coloured baby food. Firstly, you blow on the food to cool it down (let's hope for babies sake you don't have any germs). This then triggers another mini-game where you must trace a tiny spoon icon to a tiny mouth icon in order to amuse baby. Playing this game, you start to notice one of the biggest flaws of Imagine Babies, the lack of precision of the touch screen controls. For some reason, unlike almost every other DS game ever, Imagine Babies can't seem to tell exactly where your stylus is on the bottom screen, making the mini games which require precision extremely frustrating.
When you've done playing and feeding, there's also bathing, dressing, nappy changing (diaper changing to you American players) and putting to sleep to do. Bathing is very simplistic and simply involves rubbing baby with sponges and flannels until he or she is clean, if you rub too hard the baby might start to cry, but a few squeaks from a rubber duck normally sorts that out. Nappy changing simply involves tapping the touchscreen at the correct instant. Ultra conservative types should be happy to hear that it's all done in the best possible taste and at no time are any baby private bits ever exposed to the player.