Photo Credit: Nintendo
While video games for boys allow them to live out fantasies, most fashion-conscious games for tween girls just reiterate the pressures they face every day: fitting in and dressing right. In that not-so-grand tradition, the new Nintendo DS game The Clique: Diss and Make Up, based on Lisi Harrison’s blockbuster YA series, is especially cringe-worthy.
Our heroine is a new girl at a prep school where the social ladder is more literal than metaphorical. There are six cliques, and you must work your way from the bottom, the Freaks, to the top, the Pretty Committee. How to climb the ladder? By sharing gossip and running errands like fetching someone’s mislaid lip gloss or buying her snacks. To be allowed to play personal courier, however, you must first meet the clique’s exacting sartorial standards.
Every morning, as your character dresses, you must ponder six meters that gauge how the Pretty Committee, the Pop Divas, and the other cliques will respond to your outfit. Pick the wrong pants, and and someone at school will treat you to a snide comment about how you look homeless.
A bit of a romantic story line lies behind the social climbing. This matters only insofar as it gives rise to a jaw-droppingly funny line: “I’m in the 7th grade—I think I know how to handle my own love life by now.” The love square is poorly explained. The game tries to redeem itself with an ultimate epiphany about the value of being yourself. It fails. The one upside to the game: My middle-school experience seems a lot less painful.