Review By: Brittany Vincent
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Growing up, I wasn't much into the princess scene. I preferred to sit in the floor with my Batman playsets and watch cartoons. To my mother's chagrin I grew up a gamer, thanks to my father's influence. So, it's fair to say that I'm not too keen on the genre of "games for girls" that companies are so keen on creating for a false demographic. However, I do enjoy my music/rhythm games. I'm also a huge fan of Japanese dating sims. So, when I came across Natsume's latest DS title, Princess Debut, my interest was officially piqued.
Princess Debut finds you entering the shoes of an average teenage girl named Sabrina (you can rename her), who is on her way home from school when she realizes she'd really like to have a prince in her life. A friend who is making the trek home with Sabrina kindly points out that there are princes in her everyday life in the form of kind and gentle guys that might actually be boyfriend material. Satisfied with this answer, Sabrina heads home. Just as she's ready to climb under the covers, a strange girl who looks exactly like her walks out from her armoire, followed by a talking creature resembling a rabbit.
It seems this mysterious girl has escaped from her kingdom to another world so that she can avoid princess life: dance lessons, the royal treatment, and courting princes. It just so happens that Sabrina longs for this kind of life, and volunteers to take Sabrina's place in the other world. Through the armoire Sabrina and the rabbit go, only to discover that Sabrina is now trapped until the royal ball is over. Thus begins Sabrina's new life as a princess, hence the title Princess Debut.
This game can best be described as a dating/life sim mixed with a music and rhythm game such as Elite Beat Agents. In the beginning of the game, there are 30 days left until the big ball that Sabrina must perform in, but first she must find a handsome prince as a dance partner. Each day has a title and theme, save for a few days where every event that unfolds is the player's choice. On the first day, Sabrina receives a magical tiara that will transform her into a beautiful princess, complete with a flowing, regal dress. She's given a room to sleep in, lavishly decorated with pink and flowers (little girls will eat this right up), and three options with each day: go out, save, or go to sleep. Going out involves venturing to the practice hall for dance lessons, or to one of the various locations in the kingdom.
The practice hall is where Sabrina practices all of her ballroom dancing with a charming rabbit in a tuxedo. Each time a dance is completely successfully, Sabrina earns one experience point toward gaining a level of dance prowess. As you gain experience, new dance types will open up aside from the waltz that is available at the start. Dances include sambas, flamenco, and various other types that correspond to more than just ballroom music. Dancing is simple. The touch screen displays a line to trace in Elite Beat Agents fashion, with a starting and ending point. The top screen displays what shape and direction the next movement will take, and watching the top screen is key to your success. At first, it's just a little difficult because the movements go by very quickly, but a few dances in and it will be old news. In fact, it becomes so simple that it almost ceases to lose its novelty after you've made it to the 20th or so day until the ball. Simple patterns such as semi-circles, circles, triangles, waves, and squares are some of the different designs that you will trace. However, the tracing does not appear in time to the music all of the time, so it can get a little confusing. It's a very lackluster practice and the songs do not make it any better, but for kids, it's a simple and easy to understand premise. For more seasoned music game veterans, Princess Debut's system is just a bit too rudimentary.
Posted: 2009-01-12 19:16:42 PST