If you were clamouring for a sequel to Anne's Doll Studio: Gothic Collection, it can only mean that you've never played it. Nevertheless, here we are, being punished for whatever hideous, unforgivable sins we must have committed in our past lives.
Anne's Doll Studio: Tokyo Collection is that sequel, and while the previous instalment left plenty of room for improvement, Tokyo Collection decides instead to take yet another step backward, and leave us with a game even more disappointing than the last, which, we have to admit, is an incredible achievement.
If you haven't played the previous game, we're intensely jealous of your good fortune. You may however wish to read our Anne's Doll Studio: Gothic Collection review to find out what went wrong. (Spoiler: everything.)
In that game, and this one, you're presented with a doll. Its features, shape, skin tone and gender are not customisable, which seems to be a preposterously missed opportunity, as you can't even use this title to create lookalikes of yourself, your friends or anybody else. Anne's Doll Studio gives you one template to work with, and you'd better well like it.
As in the previous game, you have several categories of accessories to choose from, including headwear, jackets and shoes. Each of these categories again consists of a paltry amount of accoutrements, never spanning more than 18 options and often limited to only six. You can also use only one accessory from any category, just to further stifle your creativity and fun.
So far, so much like the Gothic Collection. Very soon, however, it becomes apparent that the Tokyo Collection actually manages to take a step back from the previous game. For starters, you can only customise one doll in this game, as opposed to the comparatively generous two in the previous title. It's as though the developers took a long, hard look at the Gothic Collection and sought any way possible to make it less enjoyable.
The accessories, also, are very, very loosely related to Tokyo at best, and we'd argue that many of them have nothing to do with Tokyo at all. In the Gothic Collection, at least, the focus was clear: dark and drab colours and styles. Here we have everything from items that scream American prom queen to lazily copied and pasted leftovers from the Gothic Collection, and everything in between. While it's of course possible that somebody in Tokyo might conceivably wear these things at some point, there's no strong case for classifying most of what's here as part of any "Tokyo collection."
The rest of the game is woefully intact from its previous incarnation, right down to the inconvenient sharing methods, clunky blackouts and dull sticker and frame options. The touch screen often refuses to work — typically after transitioning between categories, as though the game is still trying to catch up with itself — and the music is about as soothing and melodic as the sound a dog makes when you accidentally step on its tail.
We didn't think it was possible, but Anne's Doll Studio: Tokyo Collection actually makes us miss the comparatively generous experience of Anne's Doll Studio: Gothic Collection.
But this game does have a silver lining: there's nowhere to go but up. We hope.
Anne's Doll Studio: Tokyo Collection seems tailor-made to incur our displeasure. As an unnecessary and overpriced sequel to a game that was unnecessary and overpriced to begin with, we certainly didn't expect much of it, but by removing features from an already flawed formula it ends up disappointing even our lowest expectations. We're very much looking forward to the next release in the series, which at this rate we have to assume will consist of nothing but an unresponsive title screen.