When the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America, I was barely out of diapers. Yet, my parents bought me one, and of course, they bought as many age-appropriate games as possible. One game that sticks out the most in my childhood memories is the Barbie video game. While I was ecstatic to get anything Barbie, this game was truly weird — but is that a bad thing?
Welcome to Barbie
The game opens with a fun, upbeat tempo, before going to the title screen. The title screen opens with a digital rendering of a real-life Barbie doll next to her name. This sounds great on paper, but the actual execution of this scared me as a child and is still really unsettling to look at as an adult.
Thankfully. the nightmare is only on the screen for a few seconds before going to some cartoony clouds informing the players this game was a “Glamorous quest full of fun, magic, and adventure.”
The cloud credit sequence lasts a full minute before players finally get into the game. For a game that’s aimed at children, the last thing you should have are your credits before a game. The game then takes another minute of building up exposition.
Thankfully, the graphics in this sequence are good and do hold up after 30 years. Barbie is reading a book and getting ready for bed, all while thinking about the next day. As Barbie drifts off, we are finally put into the actual game, where players control Barbie in her weird, pastel 80’s colored dream.
Barbie’s dreams consist of a mall, an underwater world (where she’s a mermaid), a soda shop, and the inside of a jukebox. Barbie is a typical platformer (and is very similar to Super Mario Brothers).
You have to avoid things like tennis balls, water fountains, bubbles, french fries, and more. Her outfits change through every level, which is a cute way to incorporate Barbie’s love of fashion.
This game relies heavily on things kids would associate with Barbie, but that’s not a bad thing. Imagineering and Hi-Tech Expressions knew their audience and ran with it. Barbie was also created specifically to get more young girls interested in video games, as it remains one of the more girliest of the NES era games.
The gameplay is fine and the controls on it are fine as well. This game reacts quickly, isn’t difficult, and is a visually appealing game thanks to the color pallet. As a child, I played this game repeatedly — and as an adult, I’m still drawn to this platform-based game.
As I said earlier, this game was weird. But weird isn’t bad. This game served a purpose and I’d like to think that purpose worked. This was the second time Barbie had appeared in a video game, but it wouldn’t be the last time.
Barbie still appears in video games today, with the most recent game coming out in 2015 for the Nintendo Wii.
Is it invest-able?
Collectors’ market sales for this game are fairly strong. A WATA graded sealed 9.6 sold for $1,200 in January of 2021. The lowest sale for this game goes to a WATA sealed 8.0, which sold for $264 in October of 2020.
This wouldn’t be a bad game to invest in if you find out. Barbie isn’t rare, but finding sealed games can be daunting at times. If you are a Barbie collector, this game is a must.