Try this one on for size. Totally Spies! was a television series that ran for five seasons, ending in 2008. A movie based on the show was created in 2009, and last year developer Ouat Entertainment created a Facebook game surrounding the franchise called Totally Spies! Fashion Agents. All caught up? Good, cause here we go.
Totally Spies! places you in the role of your average teenage girl – one of your own design – who just happens to double as a secret agent. These two parts of your character’s life correspond to two entirely different types of gameplay, which do a nice job of complimenting one another.
For one, your agent will have a four-room home to call her own (bedroom, bath, kitchen, and living room). You’ll be able to decorate your home using furniture, appliances, and various decorative items that you purchase in the store. The vast majority of these items come in a wide array of bright colors – pink, neon green, purple, yellow, orange and so on. This isn’t a manly game, make no mistake.
Furthermore, in a process not entirely unlike the Sims, you’ll also be able to interact with some of these items, by taking showers, doing the laundry or dishes, buying groceries and so on. These actions earn you coins, experience points or even Energy points, which must be spent in the other portion of gameplay – that where you’re actually a spy.
At seemingly random intervals, your boss will call you on your compact/computer and give you a new mission. Once accepted, you’ll automatically travel to some sort of island, building, or other remote location, where former members of WOOHP (World Organization of Human Protection) have gone to the bad side and have planted bombs, kidnapped your friends, stolen packages and other nasty deeds.
This portion of gameplay is very reminiscent of that found in Zynga’s Treasure Isle. Each mission location is setup with a grid, and each particular square on that grid may contain something that you’ll need to interact with, whether it be an operative that needs to be eliminated, a bush or tree that needs to be searched, a crate or box that needs to be opened, or a gate that must be unlocked. Each and every one of these actions costs a varying number of energy points, and its in this that the game hits a fairly large road block, as you’ll find yourself using up too much energy without really accomplishing anything.
Mission locations can have dozens of squares to search (searching costs 1 energy point) or enemies to battle (anywhere from 5-15+ energy per henchman), and when you’re sometimes forced to look around the entire location just to find a key to open a gate, this skewed scale of energy consumption really makes itself known. Even if just the boxes themselves were free to open (rather than costing 5 or 6 energy points each), it would allow for far more gameplay in a single session. As it stands, though, you’ll likely run out of things to do within a matter of minutes, because you simply don’t have enough energy to complete tasks.
This isn’t to say that earning extra energy is impossible, as you can always come back to your home and complete the game’s various Sims-esque tasks to receive some (as mentioned earlier), but these take a few hours to recharge. When you run out entirely, you can either wait for your energy to replenish over time, or you can continue playing the game back home, by redecorating your house, purchasing new clothing for your spy, or even training with your boss at the gym. Training is another energy-sink, with various tasks (punching bags, jump ropes, or weight lifting) offering you different rewards (coins, experience points and so on).
One final gameplay element of note is a small missions section, which asks you to complete various tasks in both portions of gameplay; that is, you might have to defeat a certain number of henchmen for one task, and then purchase new clothing items in another. These quests are light, both in complexity and in rewards, and are unfortunately fairly forgettable.
Ultimately, Totally Spies! Fashion Agents is technically sound, although it contains more pop-ups than I might like, and the gameplay is sure to offer tons of fan service to those fans of the television show that were sad to see the series leave the air. Likewise, the younger you are, the more you are likely to enjoy Totally Spies!, as the game’s lack of in-depth complexity might come off as boring to adult gamers who are completely unfamiliar with the franchise. That all being the case, your own enjoyment with the game will most likely lie with the particular group you happen to fall into.
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