<< Imagine Figure Skater review page 1
Stages of the game take place over weeks, during a week, you typically have to master a new skating move, raise one or more of your key attributes and talk to various characters around the town. Raising your attributes often means repeating the same mini-games over several times, which can quickly become boring when they weren't that much fun to play in the first place. There are also two shops in the town which open after a few weeks. These stores allow you to purchase new skating outfits and accessories. There's a huge range available from the cute to the bizarre, allowing you to customise your skater to the max and I'm sure the target audience of younger girls will appreciate this. Much later into the game, a CD shop opens, allowing you to purchase new music. Don't expect the latest chart hits though, the musical choices are limited to classical music and it sounds like it is being played on an old Nintendo Gameboy.
As the game and the story progresses, the skaters grapple with schoolwork, rivalries, friendships and crushes, but this is handled simply by a few scripted story snippets that the player has no interaction with at all. The story is hardly very exciting and less patient children will probably skip these story sections altogether.
Things start to look up a little when you finally get to your competition. Here you can compile and edit your programme with your coach, or let her do it for you. Figure skating fans will no doubt be excited to compile their own routines. It's a shame then that there's no real way to set any of it to match your music. The developers could have made this into a really fun little tool, but instead you simply tap and insert elements into place and just hope it all fits the music. Once you have completed your program, you only get one chance to practise it. Usually a program contains at least one combination jump. These jumps are by far the hardest elements to perform, but you're never given the opportunity to practise them except for this one chance before you skate for the competition.
The graphics are fairly rudimentary throughout. The 3D graphics on show while you are skating are of a low standard and while the models look graceful enough when performing their jumps, they quite often flail their arms inelegantly while skating. The visuals during the story part of the game are functional but uninspiring and the mini-games are poorly presented. The game has a distinct lack of polish throughout. Sometimes the next place you should visit is highlighted on the map, other times you simply have to wonder around until you find the right place. After my first competition I took second place, some characters congratulated me for winning, others for ranking highly. These and several other niggles quickly add up to make the game a lot less fun than it should have been.
Even though Imagine Figure Skater is fairly unique, it's difficult to recommend it even to its intended audience of younger girls. The mini games are simply too dull and poorly presented for them to be entertaining enough to play them again and again and the figure skating sections could have been implemented much better. We can only hope that next time a figure skating game comes along, the developers lavish a little more care and attention on it. Imagine Figure Skater gets a low score, for technical and artistic elements, it wouldn't even make junior grade.
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