Explore your own signature style, make friends, shop at the mall and win the boy of your dreams in the new simulation game Miss Popularity. Each choice you make in this 3D virtual world will impact the outcome of your character and your social standing.
The first decision you need to make is whether to play the campaign or a free-style game. Selecting the campaign setting will place you inside a world wherein your ultimate goal is to win over your dream date. Chase your crush by getting to know him better, taking part in activities that he enjoys and keeping up on the hottest fashions. Take small jobs in order to earn money to buy clothing and other items.
The free-style game allows you to play without the goal of wooing your sweetheart. This is more of an open-ended simulation that gives the player a bit more freedom to explore the world without having to keep an eye on the prize.
Next on the agenda: customize your character by choosing hairstyle, color and clothing choices. There are only a few variations available at the beginning of the game for your hair, but as you progress and go shopping, you’ll unlock many more choices and clothing items.
Once you’ve completed those steps, it’s time to enter the world of Miss Popularity. If you’re like me and don’t tend to read game manuals before playing, you might end up sitting there clicking like a madwoman trying to figure out how to make your character move. The logical choices don’t work in this game – arrow keys bring no result, mouse only moves the camera around and the numeric keypad is relatively useless. I discovered the navigation buttons by accident while smashing buttons all over the keyboard.
W – move forward. A – move left. D – move right. S – move backward. Simple enough but I would have appreciated a hint in the game about that. Moving on…
Once you’ve managed to make your character walk across the room, you will notice some pink-colored circle areas. Within those areas are possible actions for your character such as "learning". Selecting those actions will impact the overall growth and progress throughout the game.
Eventually you’ll come into contact with other characters in the game. Some people will only have information to share with you but others will lead to multiple-choice dialogues. You’ll have to carefully ponder your replies, as only one of the options will be the "correct" response and help you toward your goals. If you upset the other person, simply wait for a bit and then try talking to them again.
While exploring, you’ll need to keep an eye on your characters needs; stress level, health, family and of course, your best girlfriend. There are plenty of actions within the game that can be used to fill these needs and keep your character happy. You can go shopping, cook a meal for the family, play with your cat, go to the salon for a beauty treatment and many other options.
You can enhance your character’s qualities and statistics with other actions. For instance, you can study to increase your level of education. This will both impress the boy you’re after as well as allow you to get better jobs. Increase your other qualities, elegance, romance, originality, sport, music and freestyle as you discover more actions and mini-games.
Although I found the controls awkward and difficult to work with at first, eventually they became second nature and the game flowed nicely. This is not the type of game that you can leap right into. You’ll definitely need to spend some time learning the game mechanics, controls and mastering the user interface. However, once that is accomplished, Miss Popularity can be a lot of fun with a high replay value.
If you enjoyed the social-management aspect of other games, like The Sims, Supple and Kudos, you’ll likely enjoy Miss Popularity. Although the game seems to be designed for younger, teenage players, older gamers (like myself) will enjoy the opportunity to relive those glory years when the most important things in life were shopping and boys!