1 thumb My Secret Diary – Nintendo DS

My Secret Diary is the seventh O-Games title I’ve had the ability to review. While I haven’t been impressed whatsoever by the other two titles in the My Games series (My Dress-Up and My Make-Up), My Secret Diary offers a little bit more substance and is the first game in the series that may actually have a justifiable existence. While the other My games offer little to do and no reason to do it, My Secret Diary has some hint of a purpose and reason for a young girl to give it a few moments of their time. I’m not saying it’s the next Final Fantasy, but at least it’s something.

As part of the My Games series, My Secret Diary is geared specifically towards young girls. The cover makes this obvious with its imagery, purple colors and bubbly feminine text. The packaging is attractive and accurate towards the target market.

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Specifications:

My Secret Diary

Store your secrets, keep a journal and have fun with mini-games, or send secret messages and event invitations to keep in touch with your friends.

Store and set reminders of special events for you and your friends, and update your calendar with friend’s birthdays and details. Customize your profile and keep up to date with your daily mood monitor.

Play games; have fun with personality tests to discover what kind of friend you are, or what flower you would be, play with fortune cookies, and friend matcher mini-games to see who is most compatible. Check your aura ring to test your mood or consult your crystal ball for a look into the future!

All password protected you won’t have to worry about somebody finding your key. Send secret messages and event invitations to your friends, or sit back and chat with all of your My Secret Diary, My Dress-Up and My Make-Up friends with exclusive ‘MyGames Chat’ over DS Wireless Communication.

Release Date: 07 November 2008

Formats: DS

Age Rating: 3+

At its core, My Secret Diary is PDA software made kid-friendly. It’s also branded towards girls with its presentation and mini-games. The presentation is even PDA-ish; the interface is rounded in the corners to somewhat resemble a handheld unit. You can write in a diary, use a calendar to mark events, save people’s contact information and play games. There’s actually a decent amount of stuff you can do with this software, especially considering it comes from O-Games.

PDA software is something that interests kids, particularly as networking, technology and communication becomes increasingly prevalent in their lives from a very early age. This game gives them the opportunity to have the basic functions of a PDA system right in their Nintendo DS. This would actually be a good organizational solution for some people instead of buying a real PDA for a child that would cost more and will probably end up lost or broken.

The entire game is secured by a secret password that is set when you first boot it up. Without that password, you’d better not even think of trying to get in. It is a secret diary, after all. The first thing you do is pick a mood for the day, then you can begin all of your super secret journaling joy. The menu will appear with your lovely selections.

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Typing journal entries can be pretty exhausting as you tap each letter with the stylus. The little squares you have to click are barely bigger than the stylus’ tip. But, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be writing the next War & Peace in their secret diary, so it’s not so bad for the few sentence entries that are likely to populate the journal.

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Calendar mode pulls qualities from any digital calendar you’ve ever encountered. Clicking on a day lets you add events for that day, apply a logo to the event so you can quickly tell what type it is (shopping, tv show, appointment, school, etc.) and even set its recurrence if it isn’t a one-time hustle.

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Contacts is, you guessed it, the address book. Adding a new name brings you to a screen with various icons representing tidbits you can save in the contact’s record. These include name, birthday, phone, email, personality, favorite color, favorite animal, and favorite music. The interface is well-suited to a younger audience. This type of presentation helps turn what is actually boring, tedious data entry into something a little more interesting. Though it’s still data entry…

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That’s really it for the diary features. The rest of My Secret Diary’s contents live in the Fun and Games section. This contains three sections: Quizzes, Games and Mystic. Quizzes is sort of silly and calculates things like your bravery, confidence and bossiness based on a series of 10 dumb questions. For instance, I’m brave because I’d ride a roller coaster and touch a tarantula and other such nonsense. There’s not a lot of value in that section.

Games is a bit more fun and contains word search and word garden. Word search is your typical find-a-word puzzle. Each puzzle has five words to find. Usually they’re blatantly obvious and you can solve the puzzle in a few seconds, but it’s a decent attempt. Word garden is My Secret Diary’s version of hangman. You have to guess all the letters to form a word, but instead of hanging a man, a petal falls from a flower with each incorrect guess. How sanitized. I guess maybe hanging a man isn’t appropriate anymore, but we used to play it in school…

Mystic is another silly section where you open a fortune cookie, rub a crystal ball or check your aura stone. Think fortunes, horoscopes, Magic 8 Ball – it’s all in that realm. I say “meh.”

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There’s not a lot of graphics to comment on, as it’s not a game but an organizer. The sound is minimal, like all O-Games, and is almost completely devoid of any music. Much of the game operates in complete silence, which is always a turn-off for me. The controls overall are fine – everything is stylus-based and responds pretty well.


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Conclusion:

Overall, the journal, calendar and address book functions do perform pretty well. The games are plain, simple and easily written off as throw-ins to pad the otherwise drab offering of a data entry game. I guess if your kid has a lot of friends that they for whatever reason can’t mentally keep track of, or if they just want PDA software to feel like a big adult, this would be something decent for them to have. Otherwise, it’s silly because kids don’t really need it, and the Fun & Games section is nothing worth paying money for that you can’t get out of a free Flash app online.

But like I said, at least it actually does do something – a claim the rest of the My Games titles can’t make.

5 thumb My Secret Diary – Nintendo DS

Pros:
+PDA features work pretty well
+Stylus-based interface responds accurately

Cons:
-No music, little sound, boring experience
-Not really necessary for most kids
-Mini games are weak

Grades:
Overall score 5 10 thumb1 My Secret Diary – Nintendo DS
Design score 5 10 thumb1 My Secret Diary – Nintendo DS
Performance score 5 10 thumb1 My Secret Diary – Nintendo DS