The Agent Reviews A Game: Love Nikki-Dress UP Queen

Needs some work on the translation there, hon… but you’re just so sweet and adorable…
Source: Ma.Gi.E. in Wonderland

Well, folks. It’s time to put my credibility as a gamer to the ultimate test.

In my tireless search for a passable mobile game, I found one in the one place I and every other gamer has been told since birth we would never find a fun game. So here comes the big ass truth bomb; my favorite game on mobile is… A DRESS UP SIMULATOR.

The plot of Love Nikki-Dress UP Queen is… bizarre and pretty nonsensical. our heroine Nikki and her cat companion Momo find themselves, for reasons unknown to them and us, transported to the fantasy world of Miraland – a world where rivalries and disputes are handled, not with violence, but with one-on-one fashion competitions (silly, but edenic in a strange sort of way) living in the aftermath of a “nine-day war” of stylists competing for three worldly treasures. Obviously, the story is not the main draw of this game; par for the course on mobile.

The writing and voice acting aren’t much better, unfortunately. The dialog is stilted, the script has quite a few grammatical errors, and voices are so forcefully twee and cute that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were watching a rerun of Rainbow Brite from the 80’s. So why do I like this game so much?

Simply put, it handles all of its gameplay mechanics amazingly. Unlike every game of its kind I’ve seen in the past, the scoring during the judging never feels arbitrary. The game lays out very clear standards and goals to achieve with each level. You’ll be given a theme to match (office, sport, traditional, etc.) and examples of what aspects of your outfit you will be most heavily judged for (cuteness, liveliness, maturity, etc.).

Plus, judgings aren’t passive events. Both you and your opponent can make the game more challenging with active skills. You can flash a smile to win judges over or kill your opponent’s confidence by throwing some critical shade. It’s less a passive fashion contest than it is spell casting management in an MMORPG.

Of course, even if you think the main story missions are arbitrary, there’s still the multiplayer competitions. New themes are regularly selected and players will judge each other in pairs based on who they think best matches the theme for the current contest.

You’ll be encouraged to craft and customize your clothing (so be weary; you may not want to throw out that old pair of jeans just yet), interact with and join a stylist’s association (this game’s equivalent of a guild), and – of course – gather daily login rewards which normally kill the mood for me, but are worked in well here. You earn so much in-game currency and clothing normally that you won’t be too terribly hurt if miss one day. Plus, the reward system itself seems highly forgiving. I swear I missed a day here an there with everything going on in my week. But when I got back, I didn’t lose any progress. Now that’s user-friendliness!

If there was any complaint I had to levy on Love Nikki, it’s that it still approaches it’s gameplay from a “dress up games are for girls” perspective with how cute it’s trying to be. But, to the game’s credit, there are a number of fashion-forward men in the cast and “unisex” is one of the many style options available. So it’s not as narrow-visioned as it could be and it doesn’t come off as closed off.

So yeah, a dress up game wound up being one of my favorite things to play on my phone while waiting for my shift to start and I suspect it would be yours too. Granted this is all coming from the bias of someone who dedicates every Wednesday on Twitter to showing off their makeup and new clothes, but if you have the same interests, this will be right up your alley. It just goes to show you that you can’t just write off a genre as worthless because of a history of bad eggs. Who knows? Someone may have fixed the problems that plague it before.

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Post-Holiday Gaming Spree (or “What’s The Agent Playing Now?”)

It’s not often that I get to talk about games here at The Archive anymore and that’s a shame seeing as how they were my first passion. Unfortunately, finances prevent me from splurging on digital entertainment.

The good news is that the influx of cash gifts over Christmas combined with Steam’s penchant for RIDICULOUSLY generous discounts over the holidays means that I get to talk about the ones that I’m really enjoying now. To that end, please enjoy these three recommendations for your gaming pleasure.

Chroma Squad

This was the odd duck gift that I got from a friend with a long history of loving the Real-Time Strategy and Tactical RPG genres. I never considered myself a fan of them since I’ve always preferred faster paced, action-oriented games that made me feel like I was directly in the action rather than an invisible hand directing events. That said, if any game has a chance of changing that opinion, It would be Chroma Squad.

Centering around a group of actors on a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers parody who get fed up with their d-bag director and start their own indie studio, you play the role of their new director and are charged with casting actors, making props, and building your set (all of which effect in-game stats) as you attempt to play to the audience to build a fanbase (which, in turn, provides you with a bigger budget for better gear) and build the best tokusatsu show ever.

Basically, it’s Fire Emblem by way of a business management simulator; an odd combination that strangely works. The fact that I was managing a show not only made me think harder about my choices but also helped to immerse me in the story since I wasn’t just some never-spoken-of pseudo-god playing with the lives of the cast. You can even customize the team name, uniforms, and catchphrases to create the show you wished you could make while watching stuff like Kamen Rider.

Bear Simulator

Okay, I know the ‘simulator’ genre is a total joke. Like, LITERALLY a joke; they’re made to be played for a few hours, be laughed at like a bad movie night, and swiftly forgotten. But Bear Simulator just feels like something more.

Like most games of its ilk (Goat Simulator comes to mind almost instantly), Bear Simulator revolves around you taking control of a normal creature in less than normal situations. But unlike its goat-based predecessor which largely required you to make your own fun from it, there is an over-arching mystery to be solved in Bear Simulator that helps to keep you engrossed in the action and encourages you to re-explore your world when you’ve polished your ursine skills.

Also, combining the Canada Hat in the above trailer with the fake mustache you find later totally makes you look like a gentlemanly tundra explorer.

Neurovoider

At this point, if you’ve been following me for a while, you should know that I love The Binding of Isaac and other procedurally generated dungeon crawlers. But if any game is going to knock Isaac off its lofty throne, it’s Neurovoider.

A sci-fi-based twin-stick shooter where you essentially play as a brain in a jar, Neurovoider is far more cerebral (no pun intended) than Isaac by the virtue of its item management system. Where you could basically pick up nearly any item in Isaac with little or no consequences, Neurovoider forces you to choose what to keep, scrap, and upgrade forcing you to make tactical decisions based on your style of gameplay.

It also addresses one of the biggest issues I have with Isaac – its lack of enjoyable and unintrusive multiplayer – by including a four-player co-op mode. Combine that with Dan Terminus’ intense Dark Synth soundtrack and you have what’s possibly one of my favorite games of the last five years.