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Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker – Easier Than Real Dating!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reviewing Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker, it’s that I should never EVER consider a career as a professional matchmaker. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve actually gotten surprisingly good – in a game. But the idea of me trying matchmaking in reality would cause nightmares so terrible they would put Stephen King to shame (it’s that scary). This being said, Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is probably one of the closest dating ‘simulators’ I’ve played so far, and it’s both strangely enjoyable and challenging. No matter your sexual orientation, hair color or hobbies (I’m currently helping a woman who likes to collect skulls for kicks), Kitty Powers is determined to find you love.
Developed by Magic Notion, you’re placed in charge of a new dating agency and it’s your job to match up lonely hearts for their happily ever afters’. Sounds simple, right? It’s all very easy point-and-click action, and here’s how a typical ‘appointment’ goes: first you need to pick your client. After learning a bit about them (interests, their personality and their ‘character type’) it’s time to go through Kitty Powers’ little Black Book and match them up with a date. The more matches you make between interests, hair/eye colour preferences and personalities, the better the date will go (as with real life) and the more points you’ll accumulate. The final prep-step is to choose the restaurant, and dates with a higher affluence (rated from one to three star and VIP) will require significantly better restaurants. Later on, once you’ve progressed a bit, you also unlock the salon which allows you to customize your clients’ appearance, hair color or even buy gifts. The things we do for love, eh?
The next big step is to guide your client through their date via an earpiece. The date itself is played through a series of mini games, and as you progress you unlock more scenarios, games and dilemmas. These games are designed to test your math skills, your memory and even your luck, and acing these can really make or break the date. Even ordering dessert turns into a memory-testing ordeal! Don’t let me stress you though: they’re all lighthearted and fun. In addition to these you also have dreaded dating dilemmas, such as the appearance of an ex. Will the date flip out? Should you lie to them and pretend you didn’t know the crazy person? It’s all up to you, and every choice you make and game you play will decide the outcome of the date (as well as how good your match was in the first place). Be warned though: if your two people severely disagree on something (i.e if you’re a saucy minx but they’re more of a prudish potato), if they catch you lying or if you fail the mini games, you’ll get a red cross. Three red crosses results in the date ending early and broken hearts all around. Even worse, three broken hearts will cause your client to leave your agency and really damage your reputation! If the date goes well then you’re faced with a choice: date, see each other again or just be friends. Use your best judgment here, but remember to think how the date went and how your client feels at the end of it. Rejection isn’t pretty, even in a game!
And now on to the point of each date (apart from love, of course): money, experience and reputation. Reputation affects not only how much money you get per date (in tips and fees) but also the affluence of future clients. A better reputation means that you’ll attract a higher-class of clients, and you can charge more per date and match. Bad dates, or ones that break up afterwards, will damage your reputation, but it’s not hard to get it back up. The good thing is you’ll always have one client waiting in your reception, no matter what your rep is. Experience is pretty self-explanatory as well: you gain exp with each successful match, and that increases your level. Each increase gives you an expansion to your dating agency, and later you start to unlock new client types i.e hipsters or geeks (yay for geek love!)
Money makes the dating-world go around: you charge a fee for each date, whether it leads to a successful match or not. The higher your reputation, the more you can charge. You also get an additional monetary bonus for taking the client on second or third dates. You can spend your wealth in several ways: the first is for upgrades to your salon or more restaurants (which unlock more dating dilemmas). You can also buy more Black Book pages so you always have plenty of possible matches for each client, and you use it to change their look in the salon before a date. Finally you can use it to cheat during the mini games, which is a real helping hand if your memory isn’t so great or you’re unlucky with Higher or Lower.
The only downside to this otherwise-entertaining gameplay is that is gets repetitive. You pick a client, doll them up, do the date and rinse and repeat. The dates are incredibly short, probably lasting a few minutes each, and the sheer quantity of matches you can do in a short period of time leaves you repeating yourself quite quickly. This probably happens because Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker was originally a mobile game, and repetition is an unavoidable part of those games. Think of Candy Crush or Flappy Bird: they were stupidly repetitive, but you still went back for more. This is definitely the case here, and I’ve found myself going back quite a few times (sometimes even out of stubbornness). It doesn’t make the game any less entertaining or enjoyable: it just means you probably won’t play it for days at a time.
Difficulty and Replayability:
Before reviewing this game, I didn’t really think dating simulation games could be too frustrating. How utterly naive I was. The game’s difficulty increases slowly as you get better at making matches and level up, so it does give you an adjustment period. The frustration comes in when you’re dealing with three star or VIP clients who will only go to the best restaurants, only date the best people and should probably just consider getting a pet rock. I wouldn’t wish cats on some of those guys. One of my particularly more-harrowing VIP clients made Freddy Kruger seem cuddly and date-able, but this frustration brings you back to play it again and again. This challenge, along with a largely diverse range of clients, ensures that the game has a high replayability level. So far I haven’t completed it, and I’ve piled a lot of hours into it to make sure I saw everything there was to see. As a final note, buying the game on Steam gives you an extra 31 achievements to try and unlock, so there’s even something for the achievement hunters out there to enjoy.
Art Style and Music:
As a fore-note, Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker features a LOT of pink. But with this famous Drag Queen, what more could you expect? Featuring a 2D cartoon art style, everything is bright and outrageously over the top. Kitty is the only aspect that isn’t a 2D drawing, but it fits together well and matches the rest of the wacky game design. The music is another great factor: think of any cheesy 80s or 90s theme song, and you’re already close. Each themed restaurant also has it’s own musical score to match (Italy is my favorite). Again repetition is a bit of a problem here, with the themes on a loop, but by that point you’re usually too busy saving your client from one disaster or another.
Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker has no multiplayer mode, however there was one concept that I found particularly interesting and worth a mention here. When you start the game you make your player ‘dating’ profile, complete with likes and an avatar. If you’re playing online, and have friends who also own the game, your avatar will visit their dating agencies as a ‘mystery shopper’ of sorts and start to collect dating data for you by going on dates. Try not to scream there. If your friends are particularly mean to your avatar, you also get to send theirs on dates when they appear in your agency. Maybe it’s not a huge point to a lot of players, but I like the idea of sending my Steam friends on dates with strangers. Now to convince some of them to buy the game…
The Bottom Line:
With a saucy and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, a diverse cast and some entertaining mini games, Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is an enjoyable dating simulator. The fact that it is all-inclusive makes it more attractive, so you can expect to find a thorough mixture of straight, gay and lesbian clients waiting on your doorstep. While repetition may cause an issue for hardcore dating simuation fans out there, it’s a great game to kill a few hours and even give your brain a good work out. Available on both PC and Mac, you can grab yourself a copy from Steam for £6.99/$10.87.
This game was reviewed on PC.