Mary-Kate and Ashley - Sweet 16: Licensed to Drive (PS2)
Wait a minute. Stop right there. Rub your eyes. Now look again. Yes... you are reading that right.
By way of explanation, let me outline my self-imposed rules for the Advent Calendar. As you must have guessed by now, for each date on the calendar I'm playing a game with the corresponding number in the title. Now, wherever possible, I will not play a directly numbered sequel or a game with a year in the title (such as FIFA 10). I'm also trying to avoid flight simulators... not just because I don't like them, but because once you get into the teens it's hard to find games that aren't flight simulators but that have numbers in the title. I tried finding something else for the number 16... but all I could find was reference to a Sega game called 16t, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find that game.
So I was left with this.
Like, omigosh, I'm totally driving!
This game features cartoon versions of America's favourite twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They're really excited, because they've just turned sixteen, which means they can... get their driving licenses! Although, if they only knew, that's not why half the internet was waiting for them to turn sixteen...
There are three game modes in Licensed to Drive, although you really only need one, that one being Adventure mode... which according to the instructions "offers a diverting dreamland of driving fun". Well, doesn't that just sound peachy!
You might be disappointed to discover you don't actually do any driving. Instead, the game is played like a boardgame. Aaaahhhh... might have been better if I'd taken the hit of embarrassment and got someone else to play. When you hit X, you stop the spinning counter. The first go determines the order in which everyone plays, and the second determines how many moves you get to make. Oh, if you play a one-player game, you have to sit and watch all your computer-controlled friends tootling around the board...
If they were doing this in bikinis, like most other female American college girls, they'd have a lot more money...
Once you're actually going, you "park" on the appropriate spot for the number you've rolled. This opens up one of a number of mini-games. The first one I played, believe it or not, was a Guitar Hero clone... where you decorate cupcakes. Yes, as each cupcake passes by, you hit the right button at the right time to land a splodge of icing on it. Awesome.
There's a good number and variety of mini-games. Some are kind-of racing games... for instance, there's a jetski game which is a little bit like Super Sprint, or a windsurfing game where you race a friend up the screen, a bit like a reverse Toobin'. Others are dafter, like a game of tag on the beach, or a game where fans blow clothes around and you have to collect the ones that match your colour. I can't believe I've just written that.
Don't smile at me like that. It's creepy.
Obviously, as the it's the twins' birthday, there's going to be a party, so as you're driving round you have to pick up as many friends as possible. They're hanging out by the spaces you land on, so if you hit the right number your car will start to fill up.
If you happen to land on a space already occupied by a friend, then you have a one-on-one lez-off. Sorry, one-on-one battle. Just checking you were really reading. Anyway, in this mode you play a mini-game against whichever friend it is to see who wins the space on the board, with the loser being sent backwards. Simple, but in keeping with a lot of board games.
Yes. This is probably what you'd expect from this game.
There are a few mini-games that do let you get behind the wheel of a car... sort of. One is a weird Frogger-esque effort, for instance, that has you in your car "hopping" across busy roads to get to the off-ramp. Another sees the four girls driving up the screen and all you have to do is hit left or right to avoid cones and collect keys. Very simple, but I guess it's effective in its aim.
Before I even loaded up Mary-Kate and Ashley - Sweet 16: Licensed to Drive, I feared the worst and expected it to be absolute shit. And you know what? It isn't. I mean, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone here... I'm not the target audience and neither, I suspect, is anyone that reads this... but for what it is, it does the job well enough. It's pretty well polished, the mini-games are at least playable and even fun on occasions, and if you had a few eleven-year-old girls around for a sleepover, I can imagine that this would keep them reasonably well entertained for a while.
I'm shocked. But I won't be playing it again. Anyone want it? Free of charge.