Leap Like a gazelle Barbie
Barbie Explorer Game Reflection
This PlayStation 1 game was an unsung hero of it’s time. It was interesting geographically, narratively and full of many fantastic elements of game play. It was in a way a soft core Laura Croft inspired game with it’s own unique nuance in relation to its core mechanics.
Oh how I enjoy to roll, I could, and often did, spend much of my game time rolling and leaping elegantly even when completely unnecessary. I spent a lot of time rolling past digital elephants and swinging computerised monkeys, leaping gazelle like through 3D Tibetan mountain ranges and swinging from ropes, vines and bars to alight gracefully on the other side of a bottomless hole. The horizontal bars were a thing of beauty and a realistically attainable goal for me as a young gymnast and just as in gymnastics I did not always land perfectly and so had to try again, yet somehow I was still enthralled and mesmerised as the game deposited me safely back to the spot I had been in before I dad fallen gently prompting with non verbal encouragement to try again and use my previous experience to help me succeed this time. Upon completing the game I often played it again from the start, despite there being no difference in the story line or game play I enjoyed to try again with my new knowledge, I was reborn ready to go on a new adventure in a now familiar land. Still curious but no longer lacking in knowledge I knew every elephant, could predict the monkeys movements, and was no longer tricked by the placid seeming nature of the mountain goat. The limited narrative actually, in my opinion was a good aspect of the game, a good narrative would definitely have improved it, but a limited narrative instead of an expansive bad one also had its benefits.
If it is not already obvious I absolutely adored this game, and I do still sometimes dust it of to explore the blocky retro 3D world; I practice my gazelle impersonation and traverse the range of terrains. Now I’m not going to say that this game was perfect, but for its time, budget and target market it was pretty good. It had the classic rings of a product of a misogynistic world when considering the narrative, outfits and game elements but these problems are not unique to this game they are problems with games in general that are important and do need to be addressed. The fact that Barbie, in the game, is not wearing pink, does not have a bow and has practical shoes on are positive points in my opinion, but, I feel that those shorts are extremely impractical in the jungle and on a snow mountain trek. My biggest major fault with the mechanics this game, when I was younger and now, was that Barbie could not swim, wade or even touch water. Though there is a part if me that realises the extra coding and animation may have been a lot of work or not a priority for a very minuscule part of the actual game play, it was the only thing that broke the immersive experience for me, as a chid the concept of an explorer who can traverse any climate swing over bottomless pits on bars and vine but was unable to swim seemed so strange and utterly unrealistic to me. Overall I personally I feel that in the way everything was brought together it was ahead of it’s time. An an inspiration for young girls in a sense of displaying a different concept of what it means to be female.