Reviewed: November 18, 2005
Released: November 1, 2005
As you might expect, it is not too difficult for a site like GameChronicles to get reviewers to cover the marquee game releases – in fact, we reviewers are constantly clamoring for the Marios and Metal Gears and MechAssaults of the game world, and our esteemed editor is forced to make tough choices.
But every now and then, a game like Trollz: Hair Affair comes across the GameChronicles desk, and nobody…and I mean NOBODY says a word – heck, nobody even wants to make eye contact with the game, for the fear that even something as trivial as that might be construed by the editors as a sign of interest and might result in an unwanted assignment.
So in walks hapless Arend, bragging about the new Nintendo DS and the Nintendogs game he just bought for his five-year-old daughter, Mieke. “Hmmm…” thought the editor, “four year old daughter, a Nintendo DS that plays Gameboy Advance games, and a game called Trollz: Hair Affair...we have a match!”
And that’s were everything went wrong…
OK, if you don’t know this already – apparently this whole Trollz thing is the newest twist on those ugly old Trolls dolls that keep reappearing every few years. This time around, the Trolls – I mean Trollz – follows the adventures of five ultra-trendy, pseudo-urban troll-girls, who spend entirely too much time on their cell phones, gossiping with their gang – the BFFL (Best Friends For Life, girlfriend!). Each girl is named after a gemstone, and each possesses her own special gem-force spell powers. Yeah, it is that bad.
This time around, the trolls – or Trollz – are much more attractive than in the wrinkled-up, pugly little pencil-caps and knickknack figurines of past years, but they still have the trademark massive hairdos – and apparently keeping that trademark hair looking cool is their main concern.
I won’t go to great lengths to describe the completely inane storyline which finds the girlz – I mean Trollz – all having some reoccurring dream about something weird happening, and then some boy gets in trouble at school and its not his fault, and the Trollz come to his rescue or whatever. Just let me say that if you are reading this review, you are either: 1) a young female Trollz fan who will totally understand the confusing storyline and all of its “hip” slang and cyberspeak won’t want me muddling it all up, or 2) everybody else who will simply button-mash your way through the colossal amount of dialog boxes simply to get at the gameplay.
And that’s how everything went wrong. Because, as embarrassing as it is for me to admit, I kind of like the gameplay in Trollz: Hair Affair. Not so much for what it is, but more for what it emulates.
Trollz is made up of five minigames, period. Each minigame corresponds to a certain Trollz character, and each is played over and over at increasing levels of difficulty. How these minigames work into the story is beyond me, but they are all fairly enjoyable – mostly because they are blatant rip-offs of popular games.
Each of the games is themed accordingly and each allows he girls to employ their own gem spell powers (which are picked up during play) to aid them in the process. The games are as follows:
Amethyst’s Flying Spell
Ruby’s Trollz Dance
Sapphire’s Smarty Trollz
Topaz’s Watch the Hair.
Onyx’s Spell Beads
Each of these mini-games allows the Trollz to pick up various game-specific spell powers that might, for example, cause the counter to ignore “misses” in Trollz Dance, enhance the aiming in Spell Beads, or “befriend” enemies in Flying Spell.
Trollz offers two different gameplay modes for gamers. Fans of the Trollz line will definitely be interested in trudging through the convoluted story of stolen powers and time travel and special amulets – but those with more discriminating tastes might want to forego the ridiculous storyline and go directly to the Boom Room.
The Boom Room allows gamers direct access to all of the mini-games, each with a handful of options to tweak difficulty and play preferences.
And that’s pretty much it for Trollz: Hair Affair – nothing more, nothing less. I half-expected to be coiffing hairdos, but thankfully that was not the case.
For a handheld game, Trollz: Hair Affair offered up a crisp, clear and bright visual package that seldom had the gamer wondering what to do or where to go. Granted, most of the game takes place on static background images – including the filmstrip-styled cutscenes – but all in all the visual presentation was commendable.
The background music was actually quite good for a handheld – offering a techno-themed soundtrack with separate themes for each character. Trollz Dance did a great job of focusing attention on the theme songs, and with real-time user controlled sound bites sampled into songs – timed to certain button presses – it really made you feel a part of the game.
Well, fans of the Trollz can rest assured that this is not simply one more cookie-cutter platformer reskinned with their favorite characters – Trollz offers a fairly comprehensive collection of enjoyable games. While I would have been less embarrassed playing actual handheld versions of Dance Dance Revolution and Bust-A-Move, Trollz: Hair Affair’s Boom Room worked just fine for me. Maybe not quite worth dropping thirty clams on, girlfriend, but fun nonetheless.
So everything fell apart when I found myself actually enjoying Trollz. It is a pretty good game for girls, and kids – although maybe my Mieke is a bit young to understand all of the concepts. Oh yeah, the fact that she can’t read the miles and miles of dialogue doesn’t help much, either.
But Trollz gameplay was probably some of the least insulting that I have found in this whole kids show/video game crossover genre. I only wish there were more than five mini-games, and maybe a bit less story.