She's traveled the world before but she usually brings too much luggage for this sort of trip. In her second globetrotting adventure for the Game Boy Advance, Barbie must stop a group of thieves who've stolen the royal jewels from an international museum. Utilizing a number of cool vehicles (including jet skis!) and gadgets (like a robotic dog!), Barbie will trek through 16 intensive missions in an attempt to set things right. The game is certainly designed for Barbie fans but take note: The emphasis here is on adrenaline-pumping action not wardrobe selection.
--From the GBA Barbie Secret Agent instruction manual.
The struggles of the jet setting, international spy of mystery are well known in the gaming community. Typically, these games are based on a popular pop culture character (I'm looking at you Bond), feature subpar gameplay, thin content, and a game that just isn't much fun to play. I believe that the character's licensing fees end up being a detriment to the game by not allowing resources to be allocated to actual game development. Either Barbie is doing this game pro bono, or Matell loosened up the purse strings, because "Secret Agent Barbie" avoids all the pitfalls of the spy genre, while offering an entertaining game with a plethora of distinct functional gaming aspects.
The first observation any player will make of "Secret Agent Barbie" is that it is very pink. The starting menu is draped in the color known to be a staple of the brand. My expectations of the game began to rapidly sink at the start menu, but then I heard the music. Is that the "Mission Impossible" theme being pounded out on a Fisher Price keyboard? It was quite endearing. Then I noticed that there was a TRAINING option, I was startled by its presence. After all, can't the entirety of a Barbie game's content be summed up in one or two sentences? Not in "Secret Agent Barbie" my friends, Secret Agent Barbie is a different kind of Barbie, and she's not window shopping.
I've played games as Princess Barbie, Fairy Barbie, and even Horse Barbie, but I wasn't prepared for the tracksuit clad superspy that was preparing to travel the globe in pursuit of the stolen Crown Jewels. This Barbie looks like Uma Thermon from the Kill Bill movies, dangerous and capable. Even the Kill Bill protagonist didn't have 007 like gadgets and a robotic dog. In a departure from the previous entries in the Barbie game series, "Secret Agent Barbie" moves extremely quickly, which adds to the enjoyment of this side-scrolling stealth platform title, particularly because the map is played on a time limit, represented by a spook-o-meter that decreases slowly with time, and quickly if seen by the enemy.
If the music is great, the graphics are utterly superb without sacrificing gameplay. The controls are always tight and responsive, and the character animations fluid and smooth. "Secret Agent Barbie" is packed with mini-games that add to the experience, such as the electronic door lock game, without being jarring or out of place. Barbie must navigate levels without being noticed to the extent that it drains her spook-o-meter bar, luckily, she has a range of spy gadgets at her disposal to avoid being seen, including a robotic dog, smoke screen bomb, cloaking device, and wrist glider. Barbie also has the ability to simply hide, roll, jump, and climb.
Even if played right before bedtime, the enemies of "Secret Agent Barbie" will not inspire nightmares. They are well dressed men with sunglasses and ties that tend to walk back and forth while scanning the area. Upon seeing Barbie, they will speak into their sleaves, depleting Barbie's spook-o-meter, they never actually chase Barbie, but who cares, Barbie is just sprinting past them anyway, they probably assume they can't keep up with her pace. There is a bunch of unlockable content that can be accessed by collecting data files hidden throughout the levels. The content focuses primarily on cars, boats, mini-games, and outfits. "Secret Agent Barbie" not only features the international adventures of a dynamic and effective female protagonist (finally!), but is also jam packed with content, features an appropriately challenging difficulty, and is a flat out blast to play. I never thought I'd write these words, but "Secret Agent Barbie" is the Barbie game I've been waiting for, and one that can be given to a child in good conscience.
" Secret Agent Barbie" is a side-scrolling platform stealth game. The main menu features a menu for TRAINING, SOUND, MISSIONS, STORY, and a SECRET VAULT. The TRAINING menu functions as a tutorial, the SOUND menu allows the player to adjust the sound, the MISSIONS menu enables the player to select any missions that have already been completed, or that the player is currently working on, the STORY menu will detail the mission briefs, and the SECRET VAULT unlocks content.
Barbie doesn't have a health gauge, but uses a spook-o-meter, that when drained will fail the mission. The spook-o-meter will drain slowly over time, but if Barbie is spotted by an enemy, it will with haste as they speak on their radio. The spook-o-meter bar can be replenished by collecting the clock items that are interspersed throughout the missions.
Barbie must frequently navigate obstacles by rolling under them, climbing up ladders, jumping across platforms, and hacking locked doors. To hack a locked door, Barbie must interact with a computer terminal, and complete the mini-game (navigating a ball of electricity through circuits).
Barbie is given a set of gadgets depending on the mission that is undertaking.
"Secret Agent Barbie" utilizes a password system to recall progress.
|Up||Climb / Hide|
|Down||Crouch / Roll (Down + A)|
|B Button||Gadget ability|
|R Button||Switch gadget|
|L Button||Switch gadget|