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CONSOLE: Nintendo DS DEVELOPER: HuneX PUBLISHER: 505 Games
RELEASE DATE (EU): March 7, 2008 GENRE: Rhythm
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

EscapeRouteBritish is such a girl gamer.

The above words were written by SoyBomb, the editor of this very website, and I guess he was right, seeing as I just came back from my pedicure. On a related note, I would like to take the time to discuss Kira Kira Pop Princess, a PAL-exclusive translation of the Japanese dancing game Pinky Street: Kira Kira Music Hour. Because it is a game probably designed for girls, maybe, I don't really know anymore.

This video game has a narrative that focuses around the ever-so-shallow Gaby, a blond-haired klutz who wants to be a really awesome dancer. Now where have we heard THAT before? In just about every teen drama, that's where! This also just so happens to be my aspiration. Got to lose about twenty-five pounds first... and I don't mean money — no, it'll cost me more than that.

By being in the right place at the right time (as opposed to the wrong place at the wrong time, which is why I missed my own wedding), Gaby gains ownership of Anna's Angela, a swanky club in White Hill. She must travel from White Hill to different sections of the Rainbow City to learn their dance styles and so forth before eventually facing off against her rival, then a fish saleswoman, and then her mentor who gave her the club to begin with. The story needs work, but the writing doesn't. The script is ever so endearing and the characters are a hoot. There are lots of jokes, and it seems for the most part that all of the Japanese humor is intact. This game just oozes cute and is dripping wet with charm. Just look at it—it is so saccharine. So "kawaii".

Kira Kira Pop Princess ends in a massive dance-off, which you already knew considering this game is about as clichéd as the dreaded "Your Mom" joke. The final dance battle is actually hard, so expect to lose. Wear a one-piece suit and try to look sexy; it boosts your score. No, really. I can vouch for it. Your clothes actually affect your score, you also cannot take on some dance battles at all without changing your clothes. Just like in real life. There is clothing and hairstyle customization which all plays into how well you score and what people think of you. Dance better, look better, and feel better. That just sounded like the slogan for a shoe company. I had better call copyright on that before it gets used somewhere else...

I love the soundtrack in this game. There are songs designed to sound like classic NES themes, and these are my favorite to dance to. There are also rock songs, traditional songs, Japanese ballads, and hip-hop songs. All of them are composed specifically for the game and sound amazing in earphones. To dance, you need to turn the DS so that the screens are portrait (you have to hold it like a book). You then need to tap or drag in the right spot and with the right motion to successfully pull off dance moves. I still don't quite get it, but after a few attempts, I managed to get each of the songs down. Also, you can adlib while dancing, though I am unsure as to how to do that too. Did I mention I'm rubbish at reviewing games? I just ended up waving the stylus around like crazy in the pauses where there were no notes on view until "free dance" showed up and my character said something really annoying like "YEAH YEAH."

The coolest part of the game is the "New Game Plus" feature, unlocked by loading your completed game file. You'll be able to change the main character's face to one belonging to any NPC in the game! Even their voice and catch-phrases change. I thought it was a nice little extra, and similar to how the toy range the game is based off actually works — each figure is completely interchangeable.

Should you get this if you're willing to import it? Not unless you're importing something else at the same time and you're thinking of saving some bucks on shipping. It's not exactly the best rhythm game, AND it has received a sequel that really improves a lot of the minor flaws. Flaws so minor that I'm not even going to bother mentioning them. All right, they did spell Indigo as "Indogo" at one point. When I saw it, I immediately wanted the person responsible to commit ritual suicide. They probably did. If you ever see Pop Princess miraculously arrive on the shelf of a local game retailer, snap it up. The sequel, Pop Town, was supposed to have been released in the U.S., but to this day its release date remains unannounced. The PAL version of the sequel is very hard to find (it supposedly got a release, a box-art and listing on several websites — but no copies anywhere). I hold out hope that I may finally spot it and add it to my ever-growing collection of girly games, next to Mary-Kate & Ashley Sweet 16: Licensed to Drive and Barbie's Horse Adventures.

At a pocket money price point, this game is absolutely worth having. I am being completely serious when I say "this game is absolutely worth having." The dialogue is very entertaining, and the character animations are adorable. The style is very pleasing, and the overall presentation is of a very high standard. If you ever see Pop Princess, buy it. Buy it immediately. Now, let's see… I think I need to go get my nails done. I'm so fabulous!


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