Think of a career, character archetype or even just a colour, and chances are that Ubisoft's got an "Imagine" title based around it. As the title should suggest, Imagine Journalist casts you in the role of an aspiring journalist keen on a multifaceted career in journalism, all simulated through a range of fun and enticing mini-games that simulate the various tasks that actual journalists perform.
Except that it's rubbish. Really, really bad. There's an obvious point where getting a journalist to review a game about journalists just invites criticism, but even if you get past the point where the game doesn't focus much on actual journalism, the rest of the game package is so shoddily put together to barely be worth playing.
Starting out as a cadet journalist, you have no skills and require training. That's actually pretty accurate, for what that's worth. Each skill in-game is referred to as a diploma, and periodically you'll have to go and earn new diplomas to cover new stories. Each diploma is really just a training sequence for the game's tepid mini-games, which include such thrills as a scooter driving game where you drag the stylus around the lower DS/DSi screen to capture stars, a photography mini-game where you stab the screen to capture shots of famous people, a film editing mini-game where you drag film cells into place to put reports together, and an interview mini-game where you stab at the screen with the stylus to capture quotes against a time limit. Repeat each mini-game a whole bunch of times wrapped around a career that moves rather rapidly from magazine to television production, and you've got Imagine Journalist in a nutshell.
All of Imagine Journalist's mini-games are, to put it politely, a bit tepid. As you progress through your career new diplomas are unlocked, but they're all just very slight variants on a theme, so quotes may need multiple stabs, film strips may run faster and time limits may be a touch sharper, albeit never actually all that challenging. To add insult to injury, if you've played any other DS mini-game compilation — and there's no shortage of those — chances are you've played the same concepts before, and probably a whole lot better realised.
In-game animation is repetitive and minimal, as is the game's music, which just plain grates after a surprisingly short period of time. Desperately searching for something nice to say about Imagine Journalist, we can at least report that the stylus does work in all games without too much lag. Then again, that would be because there's no way it's pushing the DS hardware in any appreciable fashion.
We wanted to be sure we weren't being too harsh on a product that isn't aimed at adults, so we gave it over to a member of its target audience, an eight-year-old girl who likes "cute" things. Surely our jaded view would contrast sharply with her innocence and love of jaunty tunes?
No. Not at all, really. To its credit, she was initially interested in the game, but that's largely just because it was a new game that she hadn't played. That euphoria lasted about 20 minutes, at which point she wanted to move on. Repeatedly giving her the option to play the game over several subsequent days brought forth a rather sharp "No thanks" response.
Imagine Journalist lacks any inspiration or imagination. Every mini-game's been done elsewhere, and generally better. The central theme of the game isn't terribly inspired or well executed, so you'll quickly lose interest in what passes for a plot in order to get to the mini-games which aren't much better. Ultimately in a market saturated with DS games, there's really no reason to spend your cash on this particularly poor title.