Say Say Girls is a virtual world which targets a demographic overlooked by most game developers, girls between ages 6 and 11. It aims to be a wholesome experience without the obsession over makeup or sexualisation that so often targets girls of that age though it fully understands that its target audience loves clothes and interior decorating at the same time. So take a journey to Paradise Island where all the girls are pretty and the biggest worry in the world is a pair of lost sunglasses.
Upon first inspection Say Say Girls is a brightly colored attractive game for young girls. The NPC girls are all cute as can be and live on a beautiful island. But once you get to areas that are interactive cracks can be seen. Though I made my character into a cute blonde haired, pale skinned girl every time I returned to my penthouse, the only place I could see her she would revert back to her original form before I had customized her, a darker skinned, purple haired girl. Interior decorating is said to be one of the biggest attractions in Say Say Girls but the items you get for your house don’t ever properly touch the ground. In fact they are all flat, 2D items which makes the entire decorating experience less about making an apartment that looks great and more about taping things to the walls. The mini-games, of which there are three are visually appealing but somewhat bland. The UI goes for a very minimalistic look which makes it appealing for the younger audience. Unfortunately it also often suffers from loading issues that mean more often than not you will never see your character in her display in the upper left corner.
The music, especially that which runs while you’re doing the word search mini game is annoying. There is no volume button on the game itself so you must turn down your computer sound or chose to mute the game entirely. This will be necessary while you’re in your penthouse as the sound of the ocean nearby could be described as the roar of a giant beast standing inches behind you.
You’re on Paradise Island to take part in a talent contest. Playing the mini-games and following the story is how you earn Hearties (xp) to improve your standing in the talent competition. The mini games are a word search, a ski jump, and running along the top of buildings jumping from one to the next. Each can be run in practice mode or for a score which then gets put on a leadership board along with everyone else who has played. The word search and ski jump are both pretty straight forward and very easy. Though one should question a ski resort on a tropical island. But that isn’t really relevant. Not when there are bigger concerns like the mini-game to jump over the gaps in buildings. Now, I believe that little girls playing this game are smart enough at this point not to try this in real life, so I’m not even going to approach that. Instead we have to look at the fact that the game doesn’t work! The premise is simple, “push any button to jump.” Unfortunately most of the jumps are impossible to make because the girls can’t jump high enough. The height seems to be randomly generated but the girls move stiffly and as soon as they have to jump to a building higher than the one they’re on they can’t do it! This means that you can at best make it three or four buildings before you hit the ground.
The other part of Say Say Girls is the story. After you customize your home and yourself you adventure out into the island. The dance studio has an exclamation point over the top of it, inviting you to go inside and talk to the girl there. She suggests you go to the beach to meet more people ahead of the sleepover later that night. When you get to the beach a sporty looking girl is there waiting for you. She says that she’s not feeling well from being out in the sun all day. Then asks you if you’ll go back to the dance studio to get her sunglasses from the girl there. After a bit of wasting time in the studio you’re sent to the beach again with the sunglasses. When you get there the girl thanks you but decides to go home! As a thank you though you do get some hearties and a pair of sunglasses of your own. And that is where the story ends. Though it doesn’t so much end as it does repeat. If you go back to the map the dance studio once again has that exclamation point. Talking to the girl starts the whole story over. So there you have it, the story of the sunglasses is the most pressing, and only story in Say Say Girls at the moment.
Say Say Girls is basically a dumbed down version of The Sims, for girls in a browser. Or at least I think that is what it tries to be. It takes a couple of very easy to program mini-games and slaps them together even though they make no sense being there. What does a word search have to do with dancing? Sure, all the words are about music, but so what? I already went into the fact that a tropical island has a skiing area and how little sense that makes. But all of these mini-games and home decorating and dress up can easily be found in more complete games. Needless to say innovation isn’t a strong selling point for Say Say Girls. But they are deserving of a nod if only for targeting the pre-teen girl audience with something similar to real life that is wholesome. And if they do come out with the real life doll line that seems to be hinted at when you dig past the game on the site they might be deserving of one point for innovation. But as it stands now, no. Just no.
I once again find myself wishing I could give a game a rating in the negative numbers. Even Jurassic Park was more prepared for launch than Say Say Girls is, and people got eaten there! If you haven’t guessed by now Say Say Girls is riddled with bugs, suffers from poor programming, and is an incomplete game. At least I hope that it is incomplete and that the sunglasses saga isn’t the only thing happening on Paradise Island. We have a sleepover to get to after all! If you’re looking for a clean, bug free experience for yourself or your pre-teen daughter, look somewhere else.
If you manage to play Say Say Girls for more than an hour I would be impressed. The story itself offers about 10 minutes of distraction, assuming you only do it once. Then each mini-game, though they can be repeated over and over there is little point to doing so, offers maybe 10 minutes each if you really hate yourself and feel like you have to win. This certainly isn’t a game worth coming back to a second time in its current state. If you happen to be looking for a game for your pre-teen daughter to play it might be a good one for them to play while you’re in a raid. But it will only work once as even they won’t want to play again when all is said and done.
For all intents and purposes this is a single player game with a leadership board and the ability to give your friends gifts. Or even give random strangers gifts. What these gifts are is really anyone’s guess though. At no point can you see or interact with other people. While this is fantastic for the safety of the young girls playing the game it makes the fact that it has to be played online completely unnecessary. I do applaud the developers for making a safe environment and making safety a priority.
Though Say Say Girls is free to play there is the saying that time is money. As such if time is money then playing Say Say Girls is too expensive. Between the bugs, the incomplete state and the completely nonsensical mini-games this isn’t a worthwhile way to spend time. You would be better off sitting your daughter in front of Toddlers and Tiaras if they want to see a talent show. With the time being money you then save, you can afford the follow on psychiatric care.
All in all Say Say Girls has potential, if the developers put a lot of work into it. Basically giving the game a complete revamp. As I was once a pre-teen girl I can tell you that at the target age I would have rather played just about anything else before being exposed to this game a second time. That being said, if the work was put into it to make it a better game I would certainly be willing to give it a second try. The idea of an online game with a real life doll tie in has a lot of potential. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for torture.