Review: Anne's Doll Studio: Gothic Collection (DSiWare)


Anne's Doll Studio: Gothic Collection is your chance to slap drab Gothic accessories on two dead eyed dolls that look like charmless rejects from the movie Corpse Bride. That sentence is a complete and accurate summation of this title, and it's probably the only thing you'll need to read in order to decide if you want it.

Anne's Doll Studio is not a game at all. When you begin you'll be given the option of clothing either one or two dolls, and after you make your selection you'll be able to choose from various categories in order to customise them. And that's it.

The problems with this title become apparent before you've even spent much time with it. For starters, the customisation is woefully limited. For each of the categories — hair, tops, accessories and so on — you only ever have as many as 18 choices, and sometimes you have as few as six. For a title that only lets us do one thing, customising dolls in this case, it sure is stingy about letting us do it.

We understand and confess that we are not the target audience for this game. Yet we can say pretty confidently that the target audience would need a lot more options than this title provides were it to hold their attention. As it stands you can clothe your dolls in your favourite pieces, save the resulting photo, and never bother with it again. With so few accessories to choose from, what would be the point of coming back?

Particularly curious is the fact that the developers opted for a bizarre "white out" effect whenever you select an accessory. In other words, rather than the selected accessory just appearing on your doll, the entire screen fades to white, and then fades back again with the change in effect. This happens with every selection and it gets irritating quickly. There might be some fun to be had with just tapping on accessories to see how they look, but having to wait for each one to load just encourages you to pick something and get out.

Once you're happy with your dolls — or as close to happy as the limited selection allows you to get — you can choose a backdrop (including one from your DSi's camera) and use the stylus to add sparkles, stickers, or messages to yourself questioning why you spent money on this. After that you can save it and share it with your friends, who will begin to question why they hang out with you.

Sharing is an entirely external process, as there's no in-game method for doing so. That, for obvious reasons, isn't much of a drawback.

The main issue here is simply a lack of options. You can't even choose different skin tones and body types, let alone genders, meaning this won't even be appealing to those folks who like to kill time by designing Miis of their friends and celebrities. Though, come to think of it, this title could probably produce a pretty accurate Johnny Depp.

Games like Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive! thrive in their creativity because they offer limitless potential for experimentation and creation. Anne's Doll Studio, by contrast, doesn't just eschew limitlessness, it hits you hard with its severe limitations right off the bat.

The presentation of this title is about what you'd expect: thoughtless and forgettable, though inoffensive. There's only one song and it loops endlessly, but it's not horrible. The menus are all controlled via the touch screen, and the "drawing" that you do with the stylus on your completed dolls is responsive enough. It's just a shame nobody bothered to make these dolls worth playing with.


Anne's Doll Studio: Gothic Collection might at least have held some appeal for a small audience, but its limited customisation is a big strike against a title whose entire appeal relies on creativity. Add to this a dull interface, poor design and confusing "white out" effect and you have a game that fails in both concept and execution. It's no wonder that these dolls look so depressed; Anne's Doll Studio had the same effect on us.

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