I have a small confession to make. I love playing dress up. Of course, I mean the virtual kind of dress up. I’ve always been enamored by Princess Maker, the super popular line of princess simulators that were only released in Japan. Princess Debut on the Nintendo DS is one of my favorite titles on the system. I’m not even kidding.
It’s with this deep seated love of dress up games that I was pleased to find one on the Nintendo eShop. Dress to Play: Cute Witches is a game that promises “thousands of combinations to create thousands of different little witches.” This already sounds like my kind of game.
Anyway, I gave Nintendo and the publishers at EnjoyUp Games my $1.99, and I jumped into the magical world of Dress To Play: Cute Witches. Unfortunately, the magic turned out to be a case of high school students in masks tricking the FBI into opening an investigation into the occult. It was a waste of money that only ended up wasting everybody’s time.
Before we get to that, however, let’s jump into how this game works. First of all, you’re given a “witch” to customize and dress up as you see fit. The dress up menu is strangely similar to the Mii creation menu except for the addition of, well, clothes.
When you first start out, there’s an insanely appalling lack of clothing options. I could dress my witch up in a sailor outfit straight out of a Japanese anime and a couple of cat ears. There might even be a bow. The point is that there’s not much in the way of customization options at the start.
To unlock more clothing options, you must go into the challenge mode. The challenge mode is like a shmup without the shooting. You direct our lovely witch through an obstacle-laden sky full of cute creatures and copyright infringements. While you’re avoiding these obstacles, you must also collect stars that float past in the sky.
Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The enemy patterns can get pretty erratic, and it actually does feel like a hardcore shmup at times. Unfortunately, the controls are just kind of terrible. You can move with the Circle pad, d-pad or face buttons. All three options are terrible, and movement feels sluggish. This leads to a number of cheap hits as you're often too slow to avoid oncoming obstacles.
Thankfully, the game is pretty forgiving with this section. No doubt as a result of trying to appeal to much younger gamers. The health bar is a fuel gauge because witches apparently sport diesel engines on brooms now. The fuel gauge drains slowly over the course of gameplay, but each hit helps to make it drain faster. You can collect hearts to restore a bit of the fuel gauge, but you will fail. In all honesty, you will fail a lot.
This is where Dress To Play: Cute Witches ceases to be a cute little diversion and just becomes an annoyance. The game expects you to play this mode a countless number of times. Each clothing item is tied to challenges that you must complete in the challenge mode. One such challenge is playing challenge mode for three hours. Another is collecting 150 stars in one run.
Look, I love dress up games, and I love unlocking outfits. I would rather unlock new outfits by wooing over princes and finding true love though.. Sure, that’s not exactly what witches do, but maybe she can just apparate into a clothing store and steal all the cute clothes next time.* It would save her, and by extension me, a lot of time.
*The DV Cast does not endorse theft or apparition. Save the latter for when you’re a seventh year.