Relationships with the opposite sex can be difficult can’t they? Trying to strike a balance between affection and coming on too strong, knowing when to be brutally honest about that new outfit and when to stay quiet, showing your partner the utmost respect, loving them for who they are… frankly it’s a little draining. So why bother? Why not get yourself My Virtual Girlfriend instead and skip the annoying little hassles of modern dating?
My apologies then to the ladies and gay guys reading this review, this is a product aimed squarely at the straighter than straight lad’s lads. Coming from the small team over at WET Productions, My Virtual Girlfriend is nothing if not open with what it pertains to be. This is a lifestyle product, a badge of masculinity – if you will – as much as it is a video game. It’s the type of iPhone app that some sections of the male public will whip out down the pub for a titter amongst his mates. ‘ere Gaz, look what I got!’ they will say, ‘there’s a bird in her crackers on me iPhone’ they will exclaim.
And as a marker of sexuality amongst peers it’s a fine, well produced, throwaway little toy. The game boots and responds quickly, is intelligently laid out in terms of menus and the Unity 3D engine renders animation fairly well. There’s no super naughty content in the game, the furthest you’ll get in your digital dalliances will be a ‘flirty spank’ or ‘sexy dance’, but it has a cheeky – if slightly bawdy – sense of humour that tends to be based on subtle-as-a-brick-through-a-window word play.
‘Are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only…’ and so on…
Where My Virtual Girlfriend falls apart though is in the ‘playing’ of it. Tasked with getting a girl to fall in love with you, you might have thought you’d be expected to go through a lengthy process of building up relationships with complex AI characters, each with their own desires, morals and unique personality. Perhaps you thought you’d be required to role play the type of man each of the women want to fall in love with, to steal their hearts forever. Perhaps you thought that this would be the equivalent of Façade for iPhone.
Well you thought wrong.
It is based on an unsophisticated turn based system, being asked a question, agreeing with whatever your good lady says, buying them presents, giving them kisses and repeating this process identically until you’ve ground your way through 20 levels of affection. To say that My Virtual Girlfriend becomes a question of mathematical human conditioning is an understatement, the actions you’ll take over the hour and a half it takes to hit the maximum love level border on the sociopathic.
The women too are not much to look at. The art design is good, if a little flat, but the engine just isn’t able to produce a sexy human being. Perhaps most off putting though is the temperament of the ladies in the game, which is not only utterly predictable but almost offensive in how shallow 99% of the girls in the game seem to be. Is your new lady not happy that you’ve been out recycling and earning money? Just buy her some new shoes or give her a mixed drink, that’ll get her back in your good books! Just like real life, right? Right?
I really like the guts of what WET Productions have done here, they clearly know a thing or two about getting the most from a touch-screen interface, their approach to design is solid and its a competent product all round on a technical level. But for the entirety of my time I was wondering why WET hadn’t either gone all out and produced an accessible western equivalent of a Japanese dating sim, or used the tech in a ‘proper’ game, a jaunty but methodically paced adventure game – for example – would be a perfect fit for this team’s tech talents and aesthetic direction.
For those looking to spend loose change on a cheap gag then; it’s perfect. Unfortunately the game surrounding the app is tiresome for anyone with even a modicum of interest in a quality entertainment experience. Core gamers and those without a lot of spare time to kill can easily pass over this app, safe in the knowledge that they’re not missing much, but for those millions of people who purchase fart button and beer detector apps for their smart phone? Well they could do a lot worse than check out My Virtual Girlfriend.
But not my Virtual Girlfriend.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: iPhone Release Date: 12/05/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of My Virtual Girlfriend for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of four days on a iPhone 3G. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.