With the 2018 Winter Olympics well under way, I’ve been thinking a lot about games and anime (such as Yuri on Ice which I reviewed here) that showcases the dedication that a skater must possess. I remembered fondly an NDS game from “a few” years ago that I played that allowed you to take on the life of a professional skater, competing in various events, training, dating, and dealing with drama.
This game, as it turns out, was Imagine: Figure Skater for the Nintendo DS. The game first came out in 2008 (at least in North America), making it “retro” by my definition (I consider anything greater than 10 years old to be retro.) I’m thinking about digging out my cartridge and playing it again this weekend. I’ve also been thinking about rewatching Yuri!! on Ice.
First, you might look at the box art for this game, and think it is for little girls. — Not true! The original boxart in Japan was much better – featuring anime style artwork. Why they went with a photograph of an iceskater on the US version, I dunno. They should have aimed it at anime/otome fans, but this was 10 years ago, before otome games had much foothold in the US.
Gamestop has the game in-stock for just $0.99 cents! – If you have a powerups reward card, Even better, you can grab it for just $0.79 cents!!! OMG… Go, go, go!! If you like anime, ice skating, dating sims, or otome games, it will be the best 99 (or 79) cents you could spend today. Click here to buy it before it’s gone.
There’s also apparently a sequel to this game, called Imagine: Ice Champions. I have not played the sequel yet, but Gamestop has it for just $1.59.
These games were perhaps too ahead of their times – with the relatively recent popularity of Yuri!! on Ice, and increased representation of Otome Games in the United States, I wonder how a sequel for Nintendo Switch would fare these days, if marketed properly. Why try to forcefully create an audience, when there already exists a large audience begging publishers for such games. Do your research and understand your target audience better.
Most of us are 20+ years old, otaku/anime fans, and would rather buy the original box art on the right, than that which was designed for the US on the left. This alienated most of your “built in audience” while trying to build a new audience with younger girls.
Thankfully the art in the actual game is fully done in an anime and kawaii style which could appeal to either audience.
Now on to the review!!
Title: Imagine: Figure Skating
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Career/Life Simulation Game with Dressup Game, Dating Sim and Otome Game aspects
Where to Buy: Gamestop has both of these for about $0.79 and $1.99. Check out the links above.
Geeky: 5/5 – Gameplay is solid, the graphics are a little bit pixelated, but that’s probably just limitations of the software of the time ten years ago. Gameplay using the stylus to perform ice skating moves is both fun and challenging. It offered high replay value too with different girls to play as and different events and dialogue options. It gave a good look at what skaters go thru when training. If you enjoy watching the Winter Olympics, or enjoy anime such as Yuri!! On Ice, then you will enjoy this game!
Sweetie: 5/5 – This game has a little bit of everything, all in one very cute package! Ice Skating is beautiful and elegant and as you compete you unlock new areas to explore, new outfits to wear, and you interact with friends, lovers, and rivals. It has a good dose of comedy, slice of life, drama, and surprise.
Overall: 59/70 84% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
Gameplay: 10/10 – Gameplay is where Imagine: Figure Skating really shines! When the game starts, you select one of three girls, each with her own strengths and weaknesses both on and off the ice. From there you’re whisked away to a tutorial where you get to try skating for the very first time.
Do well and advance through various qualifying rounds improving your skill and technique. You will earn money to buy new outfits and get to travel to compete in new arenas and unlock new events.
When not on the ice, you will go to school, work part time jobs, go on dates, or spend time with your friends. Rivals will show up both on and off the ice too which add to the story.
You skate by using the Nintendo DS stylus on the lower touch screen. You perform jumps and spins and get scored for each of your routines. As you play and complete your training, you will unlock more advanced moves to add to your routine.
You have complete control over designing your own ice skating routines. You select your outfits, music, and choreograph your routines to progress through the game and ultimately guide your character to the nationals.
Story: 7/10 This game, just like Yuri!! On Ice, does an excellent job portraying the struggles and triumphs of those training for life as a professional or Olympic figure skater. Just like Yuri!!! On Ice, Imagine: Figure skating has that tantalizing blend of romance and rivalry both on and off the ice. It also showcases themes such as platonic friendship, family, travel, adventure, and sportsmanship. Storywise though, this game comes no where close to generating the same emotions and reactions in its audience compared to the beloved Yuri!! On Ice, which has been countless praised by real figure skaters for its realistic portrayal of events and memorable characters.
Characters: 8/10 The characters are cute! I loved the dressup aspects and loved having multiple girls to choose from when starting the game. I loved how this game draws you into the life of the characters, showing you moments of their life both on and off the ice. I didn’t quite connect with them as emotionally and deeply as I had hoped to. This is also probably why the story felt a bit flat.
Graphics: 7/10 – The graphics are a bit outdated, but there’s so many options for costumes and the ability to pick different girls is great. The girls are all so cute.
Music: 7/10 – I feel like almost everything about this game, is about a solid 7, it’s good, but not great. The great gameplay though makes up for the rather “average” other details. I’d say the music is fine, but ultimately far from memorable.
Replay Value: 10/10 – With different girls and different outcomes along with the ability to customize just about everything, this game has very high replay value.
Overall: 59/70 84% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
If you enjoyed Imagine: Figure Skating and Imagine: Champions on Ice, you may also like the other Imagine Games which you can view here. You may also like Princess Debut, which I love and plan to review shortly. There’s also a game called Princess on Ice that you may enjoy – I have not played that one just yet myself.