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Imagine Interior Designer is an entertaining, if somewhat undemanding, entry in the series. Like the other Imagine games it is focussed on a very specific pre-teen audience, so if you're an adult looking to get inspiration for your own interior decoration project you should clearly look elsewhere. However, if you're a pre-high school girl with aspirations to explore your creative side it will give several hours of satisfying game play.
The premise is simple: your cousin Louise has gone away travelling, leaving you in charge of her decorating business. Given the never-ending stream of customers entering the shop, this is a pretty busy task. Your job is to keep them all happy by designing ever more detailed furniture and fixtures to meet their – sometimes wacky – demands.
The main screen takes you to the cosy interior of your cousin's shop. You can select a number of items on the main counter (laptop, order book and telephone) to access your gallery of personalised designs, find out the details of your next order or receive gift rewards from Louise, who – it has to be said – doesn't have the best work/life balance, as she always seems to be calling you up. A doorway leading out back takes you to the workshop, where you create the bespoke designs your customers want, or just have fun designing a new chest of drawers or a surreal painting.
We limited our 3rd grade daughter's playing time to an hour a day, but she still finished all 32 orders in under a week.
The design activities in the workshop have almost limitless mix-and-match possibilities: you can mould a lamp stand on a virtual potter's wheel, then cover it with whatever fabric, material or picture you want, with sometimes hilarious results. You want curtains with a cow or redcurrant motif? You want an armchair with a picture of a guitar or an Old Master on the seat? No problem! The game designers haven't put any constraints on the materials and images that you can use for any aspect of your design and, while this makes the game play a little unreal, it is a whole lot of fun. In this respect family and friends were unanimous that Interior Designer has more variety than, say, Fashion Model.
The layout of the sub menus is beautifully simple and, within no time at all, you'll be zipping from one workshop to another, trying your hand at wardrobe design, framing or surface decoration. As you successfully complete your customer's orders the design areas in the workshop are progressively unlocked, and it's surprising how strong the incentive is just to finish that pesky order to see what you might unlock next.
This simple addictiveness is likely to draw the dedicated player through the game pretty quickly. We limited our 3rd grade daughter's playing time to an hour a day, but she still finished all 32 orders in under a week. Interestingly, she was far more interested in showing us her own interior design creations than the orders she had completed for customers. On this note, the shop's display window allows you to put your most cherished designs on show and, as the game progresses, you can create a personalised room with all the fittings, using the left and right triggers to scroll around it in 3D.
Those who are looking for something educational will not be too disappointed.
Perhaps the only real drawback of the game is that it tends to spoon-feed you the orders in such specific detail that it is hard to get them wrong. This does detract a bit from the challenge and although, at the end of the game, you are asked to create multiple furniture designs for one order, the level of difficulty involved in designing them is sufficiently low that even a relatively uncommitted player can complete them without too much of a challenge. Having said that, those who are looking for something educational will not be too disappointed: there are lots of specialist design terms, such as ‘baseboard' and ‘roughcast', which a player will have to understand and link to a fixture if they're to complete the order correctly
While Imagine Interior Designer won't necessarily set your child on a career path to becoming a quantity surveyor, overall it feels like a very complete and polished game. The jazzy, funky soundtrack and highly satisfying sound effects add to what is a convincing little world. Add to this the possibilities for trading your design creations with friends wirelessly and you have a nice package, perfect for the inexperienced child gamer who has not yet developed the attention span or commitment to handle more complex game play.
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