America’s Next Top Model Nintendo DS review

The latest in a long line of American TV videogame adaptations, is this one walking tall or dragging its heels?

Could you be America's next top model?

For the uninitiated, America’s Next Top Model is one of the funniest US television imports ever brought over to the UK. Now on series eleven, the show’s strong point largely lies on watching a bunch of incredibly bitchy women thoughtlessly trample on all others around them to make it to the top. Trashy, overblown and marvellously edited, it’s precisely the kind of show I love to slob out to on a weekday night.

Of course, for young girls there is another part to the show, which would greatly appeal – that of wanting to be a model. Well, while the show itself is utterly inappropriate for said girls, this DS game based on the series is right up their street.

I’ll get this out of the way now. The game is surprisingly OK. Not a world-beater by any means, but as a title to place in young ladies’ DS collections, it’s pretty good. This was a real surprise as, I’ll be quite frank, I was expecting this to be a real howler. I’ll explain why it turns out how it does.

Firstly, the graphics are brilliant for a DS title. Having played a bunch of titles in the past where attempts to replicate humans have fallen desperately short, I didn’t know what to expect here. Developers Independent Arts have really pulled out all the stops though, creating animated faces and bunches of pixels that really work.

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Secondly, the gameplay itself is simple, yet with just enough variation to hold its target audience’s interest. As a contestant in the virtual show, you’re up against another nine virtual wannabes. You have to pass through each week by undertaking various modelling assignments and then finishing off on the Friday with a catwalk posing session and answering questions about the modelling business. Get enough questions right and hold those poses and you progress to the next week. You can also spend time training for the assignments and hanging out in the loft apartment that the other models are staying in (although there’s only one model ever there and she says the same things ad nauseam).

Tasks include applying make-up, trying on new outfits and attending photo shoots, all completed by using the stylus. Some are more successful than others. The make-up assignment in particular is rubbish, with a paintbrush-esque rubbing of the screen deemed a successful way to make yourself look simply fabulous, darling. The catwalk and photo shoot tasks are better, asking you to carry out various stylus movements in the right time and way to complete the task.

As you progress in the competition, you need to follow this routine until you’re the last woman standing. While this repetitive gaming structure would be, admittedly, rather dull for the older, more experienced gamer, it works well for its target audience.

While by no means a classic, America’s Next Top Model succeeds as well as it does by keeping things simple and coming up with a presentation style that works very well. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I rather enjoyed it while it lasted, and I reckon younger gamers might do too.

3 stars

Rating:

3 out of 5