Console Games

Pixel Stars Digital Dreamhouse Review

THIS ITEM WAS GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW. ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE THE REVIEWER'S OWN.

Reviewed by Deborah Banasko

I’m the kind of parent who likes her children to play with toys and their imaginations, but I’m aware that children love gadgets and digital games. For me, reviewing the Pixel Stars Digital Dreamhouse was a indeed dream as it’s a compromise and gives my daughter an introduction to these types of games.

I was surprised when the game arrived as I expected something much larger. The packaging is very eye-catching and cute, but I wouldn’t really know what it was on first glance and it could be easily dismissed on the shelf if you aren’t familiar with this type of game as there aren’t many like this around.

Once opened you are presented with a mint-green house frontage which you slide downwards to cover the lilac plastic that surrounds the digital screen. There are 4 play buttons (left, right, back and select), and the device has a key-ring attached. It is larger than a Tamagotchi when closed, but not massively. Personally I love the size and the fact that you can fit this in your pocket, my initial thoughts being that it would be ideal to play in the car.

Once you fit the batteries the device turns on automatically, and you slide the house frontage upwards to play the game.  I love the attention to detail, as when you close the house you can still see the screen through the windows, lit up yellow with a shadow of one of the girls dancing or flossing before it enters into sleep mode. Incidentally if you stop playing for a couple of minutes it automatically enters sleep mode again to save the battery.

The idea of the game is to create your own virtual dream house, collecting coins through mini-games and doing your job to enable you to spend the coins in the virtual shop. So to start with you have three girls to choose from which you can customise with hair colour etc. You can play as all three girls in separate games should you wish.

Once you select the girl you wish to play as, you find yourself in the start-up room of the house. As I decided I didn’t need the instructions at first, I managed to sell the window of my room which is a little bizarre, so perhaps read the instructions!

You can choose to become a celebrity chef, fashion designer or social media star within the Dreamhouse. You then have further options of play such as adopting a pet (dog, cat or hamster), eating, exercising, moving between rooms, choosing outfits and hairstyles and even decorating the house to the point of choosing patterns and colours of flooring and wallpaper. There is a cute little feature where you have a zoomed in graphic, for example when you order from a shop or get some food.

As you play, the coins that you earn can be used to buy things such as furniture, add rooms to the house and unlock new items. The better you are at the mini-games, the more money you earn. The games are based on the chosen career, and whilst they are pretty basic they are fun and are only one part of the much larger game play.

With the pets you can feed them, play with and groom them. I am unsure whether the pets could die/disappear if you forget to feed them and I am too much of a chicken to try that one out! That said, there have been times when I have forgotten about them for some time and nothing has happened; they don’t seem to be especially needy so I am assuming not.

The graphics are crisp and really cute given the size of the screen, and it is quite a calm game compared with the “demands” of a Tamagotchi, and it certainly has more “sparkle”. With this in mind, whilst your child may get a little addicted as with any game, they can break away from it quite easily as I am pretty certain that failing to care for the pets and girl has no dire consequences (but don’t hold me to that one).

There are apparently 32 rooms to collect, 450 items to buy and over 800 outfit combinations; this is a game about working, earning money and spending it to collect items. There’s a crucial life lesson there somewhere….

The volume is really loud as the speaker is quite big but this can be adjusted; however the re-set button is located close to the volume button which is a little scary so watch out for that one.

I did notice a small glitch in the game where the screen flickers from time to time or looks a little mixed up from how I last had it; easily remedied by closing the house down and opening again. The plastic is a little flimsy, but for the amount of game play options and quality of the display I feel it is more than worth the money.

I naturally handed the game over to my 9 year old daughter to play once I’d had my turn and she loved it. There is so much for her to do and a great level of satisfaction as she builds her dream home and wins the coins from the mini games so that she can spend, spend, spend. Her 6 year old brother was quite interested so the three of us each have our own avatar currently but I may need to invest in another one if both of them remain interested before the arguing starts.

The game specifications suggest that this is aimed at ages 5-12; now my 6 year old did struggle but he has limited experience of this type of toy and very little patience whereas my 9 year old picked it up relatively easily although we are still learning!

This game does not connect to any other devices or the internet, and for an anti-console person like myself this feels safe and fun.

However for me the career options were not what I would choose, but that is perhaps because my daughter is kept away from social media and isn’t really aware of social media stars. I am possibly in the minority here when I suggest that we should encourage our children to aspire to be something (dare I say) better than a celebrity and someone who is primarily focused on appearance? I appreciate that the game is meant to be “the dream”, which apparently equates to fame, but I personally would have loved to see a variety of careers and have a break from this need to be a star. There was a nod to this with the (celebrity) Chef, and granted a fashion designer does possess great talent… this is just my opinion, and possibly a dreary middle-aged one at that, as in “my day” it would have been models, singers and actors no doubt.

I have to remind myself that the aim of the game is to earn money and progress your career in order to buy new rooms and decorate your house. It is essentially to live the rich and famous lifestyle as all girls want to do… I can’t decide how okay I am with this if I am honest as I feel that I want something a bit less shallow for my avatar girl. However it is a game, it’s safe and my daughter thinks it is amazing.

As I said at the start, you don’t see many games like this and it is really unique and a fantastic Christmas gift that doesn’t take up too much space. Despite my reservations and worries about the “world we live in” I have to award this game 4 stars out of 5 as it really has entertained my little girl and put a smile on her face. Anyone who does not share my slight concerns or who is indeed purchasing this for a Tamagotchi-loving adult would no doubt score higher than I have.

I would award this game 4 stars out of 5.

Rating: 4/5.

RRP: £29.99 but there are some amazing Christmas discounts available at the moment if you shop around

You can purchase this product from Amazon here.

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