Inside Pulse 12

Review: My Secret Diary (Nintendo DS)

My Secret Diary
Publisher: O-Games
Developer: Oxygen Studios
Genre: Diary
Release Date: 07/30/2009

My Secret Diary is just that: a diary. While it may not be so secret, it is, at its heart, a diary and not a game. Sure there are game things included with the diary program but overall those are secondary to the actual diary portion of My Secret Diary. Have I said diary enough? Diary, diary, diary.

Imagine, if you will, that someone gave you a Nintendo DS and then gave you a copy of My Secret Diary. Then, and bear with me here, imagine that you are either fictional serial killer Danny Barrows AKA Scissorman from Clock Tower, some luckless World War One grunt or Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All. I believe that while each and every one of those fictional/real people are very different from one another they would all come up with a similar conclusion: My Secret Diary may not be for them.

We have the players, we have the (untimely) writer and now we can have a review.

Modes

The modes are rather straight forward. You have the diary (the whole point to My Secret Diary), a calendar (to keep track of dates… double entendre!), contacts, fun and games and, finally, wireless connectivity.

Before you can do anything you must input a password, ostensibly to protect your diary. That is all well and good and perhaps reassuring for someone putting deep dark secrets that come with slicing up whorish orphans, and most anyone else, with a giant pair of scissors, but it may be a bit too tedious for some guy in a trench fighting foot rot and shaking from being shell shocked after the 8th straight day of enemy bombardment… for example. A downside to the password is that, if you forget your password, you can always look in the instruction manual and find the master password. This means that you probably should hide the instruction manual so no one can snoop around and open your diary (but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a safe guard).

Digressing: the first mode is diary mode. Do I really need to explain this to you? Really? No, I will not explain this mode to you. I will tell you that each new day you start up your diary you are asked to input your mood by selecting a variety of smiley faces. Alas, there was no: annoyed with smiley faces specific smiley so I just went with a frowny face like so: :( <---- frowny face. I will tell you about how actually interface with the diary. The method in which one enters things into this diary is via stylus and keyboard displayed on the touch screen. You hold the DS like a book: vertically and then type out each word individually. Ignoring the stylus and using your fingers works a tad bit better but entering anything is tedious. For someone like fat fingered pre-weight loss Danny Barrows, this would mean he could not use the stylus/touch pad interface at all since he would end up writing fat fingered gibberish like oihnlkn alk lkjl. WWI guy could pass the nervous pre-I am going to die thanks to that damned new machine gun hokum with the stylus and make a relative go of things if his hands weren't shaking like a crazed au pair with a screaming child (too soon?). The overall single letter, shift+letter = capital method of writing is counter productive to keeping a diary. My Secret Diary ends up being too much trouble to bother with, making pen and paper seem like light speed. Basically My Secret Diary fails at being a dairy and that’s just pathetic.

The second mode is the calendar. You can go day by day to list all your things (like killing whorish orphans or how hiding in an attic really is not at all like the brochure said it would be and that you need to clean up the rat feces in the corner) and you can enter as many special events you have that day via event entry (like the day you were supposed to climb out of a trench and get caught on barbed wire and die or when Sam is coming over to visit). To summarize: you have a calendar and you can input events for each day of the calendar.

Mode three is contacts. You put information you have on people you know for later blackmailing in here if information like: favorite animal, favorite music, favorite color, favorite orifice or personality type are blackmailable information. Danny Barrows fun fact: his favorite orifice is a tie between entry wound and exit wound! Clarissa’s is probably Sam’s mouth when he keeps it shut (I swear she was beating him and making him turn tricks for her so she could spend money on her stupid Bedazzler addiction… or was that Blossom?)

Fourthly we have fun and games. This is where you have things like portable Myspace/Facebook quizzes for those that do not have an internet capable cellular phone. These quizzes are simple: yes, no, maybe questions. The categories are things like luck, love, sense of humor, where on the doll did coach touch you and other topics that are endlessly used on the internet. Every time you complete a quiz a new one unlocks. The only limit is your patience!

The games section of fun and games is filled with three options. One is a word search. The words are painfully easy and it makes me wonder just how young the target audience Oxygen sought to capture really is and how bad the US education system really is at this moment in time. Examples of words: sheep, river, forest, field, tree. The only “difficult” part is that some words are backwards. Each set of words is related to a master topic and there seem to be no rewards other than more simple word searches – nothing to unlock really.

You have word garden next and that is basically a version of hangman only with a flower losing its petals. I believe this is the new, “He Loves Me, He Has Me Guess Words” of the 21st century. You get baby flowers in your garden as a badge of honor or something but I did not notice them as I was trying to see if I would discover more difficult words… I didn’t. WWI guy wrote in his diary that he hated the Kaiser but would rather die for Germany than be stuck in the French uniforms (he said they were garish).

Next up is friend match! I did not get to try this out because I have no friends who have a copy of My Secret Diary. They’re all jealous of mine though, suckers. Anyhow, according to the instruction booklet you pick two friends from your contacts list and it sees how compatible they are with one another. Danny Barrows compared Jennifer and Lotte and it told him they are best victims 4-eva! Clarissa just went off to witch school and couldn’t be bothered returning my phone calls… that witch!

The mystic tab has three so-called games. One is breaking open digital fortune cookies with positive sayings. There’s the crystal ball that is a new version of a magic 8-ball (best thing about My Secret Diary) and then the “aura stone” which is an excuse to have someone rub the stylus over a button shaped object to give an aura reading. Yeah… okay.

Least and last is the wireless options. You can invite folks to a calendar event or send secrets (with optional password for said secret) to friends… wait, isn’t this just gossiping? Don’t be afraid to use the word gossip! I digress to the final option: chat. My Secret Diary owners can now chat on their DS. I did not get to use any of these features but WWI corpse told me he received some really mean secrets from the Germans across the line (and an event invitation to get blown up in No Man’s Land which he eagerly accepted).

Modes Rating: Above Average

Graphics

The game assumes that its entire audience are girls (a reasonable assumption) and that all girls are ga-ga for pastel colors (an unreasonable assumption). I tried to find anything near the primary color spectrum but while the yellow they chose was close to being a nice, reasonable yellow it ended up hurting my eyes. Magenta, turquoise, sea green, periwinkle and other frou-frou names for shades are abundant. The menus are bland with little appropriate images right next to the choices.

What did you expect from a diary program? A fresco? Well there aren’t any here. The visuals do their job and nothing more; no dazzling or sparkling eye candy, just some really old hard candy that is stuck together. I bet that dead WWI guy liked hard candy.

Graphics Rating: Mediocre

Sound

Most of the time the game is quiet until you make a choice, then a rather annoying chime sound plays. There are two chimes: one for selection and another for transition to menus. A small ditty that is chime-like plays when you go back to the main menu. Basically anyone listening to this for an extended period of time will have their ears bleed. I asked Danny Barrows what he thought of the audio and he just stared at his shoes and mumbled something about losing his killing chubby after hearing that accursed noise for the 300th time. Clarissa is probably doing some annoying opening credits montage and that WWI guy? Still dangling off some barbed wire.

Sound Rating: Poor

Control and Gameplay

I have hinted on how My Secret Diary works but I guess some people may want more in depth analysis. Sadly I am sans telestrator and really do not like saying “boom” for slobbering over Brett Favre but I will try my best to tell you how My Secret Diary works. At the heart of the entire piece of software is the stylus. You use the stylus to type out each diary entry letter by letter. Should you make a mistake, you must go over to the backspace key on the displayed keyboard (that takes up the touch screen) while you get a display of what you are writing. To capitalize letters you need to hit the shift key on the displayed keyboard to capitalize a single letter while hitting the caps lock key is cruise control for mental retardation. The event calendar suffers from the same exact problem, which makes sense since you must type things in that mode as well.

For how tedious the input method actually is, My Secret Diary executes its method flawlessly. This is like someone mugging a little old lady with perfect form or like World War One guy charging bravely in some idiotic battle plan and being killed while trying to cut some barbed wire. Flawless execution of a terrible idea is still terrible.

As for interacting with the games, the interface is standard point and select. Thank heaven for small wonders (I hated that show).

Control and Gameplay Rating: Good

Replayability

Honestly, thanks to the clunky entry system I doubt anyone will keep a diary for too long in My Secret Diary. There is online play but I am not too sure the pre-teen/late childhood audience is going to be bursting at the seems to use this bit of software. You can play the mini-games for awhile but there is no real point to them except as a poor distraction from how bad the diary interface is for My Secret Diary.

I’d really question the person who could continue to update their diary through a poor and clunky input method and then play rather simplistic and unchallenging games. I figure Danny Barrows could because it would be a nice break from killing orphans.

Replayability Rating: Poor

Balance

The bulk of My Secret Diary is the diary (diary, diary, dairy; have I said that enough?), but for my time with My Secret Diary (diary, diary, diary) I mainly spent it trying to find out how many different puzzles and games there were. Slowly, surely and relentlessly apathy stalked me as I plowed through simple puzzle after puzzle. I began to try to think like the target audience, but I really wonder if it is meant for elementary students. Perhaps elementary school girls are not as sharp as I think because My Secret Diary seems to try to dumb things down. The games are a bit too simple, I kind of think MSD is insulting the intelligence of the people who it is meant for. For all the fun I poke at My Secret Diary my main problem is that it smacks of treating its user kind of like a dull child. Maybe that’s just me being old. My Secret Diary (diary, diary, diary) is easy and simple but maybe too simple for its distractions to hold attention.

Balance Rating: Mediocre

Originality

This is the first diary software I have played on the Nintendo DS. I guess that counts for original but I am not sure whether taking an idea that has not been over saturated and doing an uninspired job counts for anything. Um, it matches my pink DS, that’s kind of… not original.

Originality Rating: Good

Addictiveness

I figure this game is about as addictive as waiting in line at the cafeteria or DMV… not at all addictive considering the depth and breadth of entertainment and diary writing things out there (blogger, wordpress, livejournal, pen and paper, carrier pigeon, dead WWI guy’s coat…)

Addictiveness Rating: Bad

Appeal Factor

This game probably appeals to a group of friends who want to try something as a group then, one by one, they are murdered by a Norwegian murder machine and must try to fend off an unstoppable killing machine and answer the question of who will make it through this game of murder alive… CLOCK TOWER!

Appeal Factor: Bad

Miscellaneous

I forgot to mention that at least My Secret Diary has a left handed option; that’s something.

Miscellaneous Rating: Bad

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Above Average
Graphics Rating: Mediocre
Sound Rating: Poor
Control and Gameplay Rating: Good
Replayability Rating: Poor
Balance Rating: Mediocre
Originality Rating: Good
Addictiveness Rating: Bad
Appeal Factor Rating: Bad
Miscellaneous Rating: Bad
FINAL SCORE: BELOW AVERAGE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary

I would recommend you buy your kid a pen and a notebook. You’ll save some money and help to increase their literacy. No magic-8 ball or quiz on how much feces your typical colon holds is worth buying My Secret Diary.

  • This is an uninspiring waste of money,

    Why would anybody want such a boring game…

    Thanks for bringing this up

  • √©lina rodrigos

    are you kiring i love to have a dairy in the internet i’m loking it for a long time end i find it oh but how i have to do to have one plz ??? “it in the net right?”
    ok this is my email plz if you know how just email me ok “melissa-sonia@live.fr”

  • nicole

    bought a used game with no instuctions and need password to unlock game.can anybody help me?

  • masooma

    i have forgot my password and the mannuals lost what am i goiing to do

  • avril

    how can i get this?