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Year of release: 2008
Publisher: Oberon Media
Genre: Strategy/ Simulation
I have always had a soft spot for computer games for girls; the ones where you form relationships, chat to people and basically help your character to have an all round better life than you ever will thanks to the computer addiction! Just kidding; in seriousness, I try not to play computer games too often at the risk of stepping over that boundary of being a well adjusted, balanced and sociable human being! Yet when I am completely bored (or trying to avoid doing an important and mind numbingly dull task) I will have a little play of one of my girly games; which are generally basically the computer equivalent of trashy TV!
A little while ago I came across 'Supple'; a game described as "a lot like life only more fun!" The full description of the game on this particular site is as follows:
"Supple is like an interactive television sitcom where you control the star of the show. Her name is Arin Costello, and she is an associate editor at Supple Magazine, a fictional hot fashion publication. The game is all about relationships, shopping, money and getting ahead at work."
Well, it sounded right up my street! Television sitcom? Glossy magazine? Relationships? Shopping? Why, all my favourite things combined (except for the work, of course)! It sounded like the perfect game, so I instantly downloaded it and instantly became addicted to this frustrating, fun, challenging, annoying, disappointing, satisfying, strategic game.
As the brief summary above explains, in this game you take on the role of Arin Costello, an ambitious, fashion conscious associate editor of the glamorous Supple Magazine. Arin has been offered the chance of a promotion at work; the only problem is, so has her colleague, Hugh. Arin and Hugh will therefore need to spend the week competing to impress their boss, get as much work done as possible, and deliver the best all round performance before the winner of the promotion is announced on Friday, 5pm.
The objective of the game is to get Arin that promotion by making sure - in whatever way you can - that your performance is better than Hugh's. Yours and Hugh's performances will be measured by parallel horizontal charts that are divided into coloured sections, going from red, to yellow, to green. Your progress bar will move across this, and you need to make sure it stays in the green to get that promotion.
As you progress in the game and choose the harder version, the bar will not only start off lower down the chart (in the red section) but the red and yellow sections will be bigger, meaning you have to work harder to get in to the green. Many different things (which I will leave you to discover for yourself!) will make your progress bar move towards the green section.
The game is divided into five days (Monday to Friday) and your job is to get your progress bar into the green area and to keep it there until 5pm each day, otherwise you won't progress on to the next day. You must do this for all five days - while, if you can, making sure Hugh's progress stays low - and make sure your bar is in the green section by 5pm on Friday in order to get that promotion.
NB. If your bar is in the red at any time when your boss is around, she can sack you at any point.
HOW YOU PLAY:
Once the game has loaded up and you have selected the option of beginning a new game, you are given the option of choosing to play the game on easy, medium or hard. The game can be pretty difficult to begin with, so I would definitely recommend beginning on easy!
Once you have selected your level, the game begins in Arin's office, where you and Hugh are both standing. You now have a few choices of activities, which are the same choices you will have throughout the game (and which you decide by clicking on the relevant icons). The activities that you can do as Arin are as follows:
By clicking on the computer, you can set Arin to work. One aim of the game is to win stars - five of which are lined up on the right side of the screen - and you do this by working. Arin will work for a set amount of time before getting tired or bored (at this point you need to make sure she does another activity or gets a snack or coffee to renew her energy levels), and the progress she has made towards winning the star will show up as a percentage when you hover the mouse over the relevant star, which will be opaque and flickering. Hugh's percentage will also show up on the star, and you need to make sure that you get to 100% before he does, in which case the star will turn red to show that you have won it (in contrast to blue, which is the colour it turns for Hugh).
During the first day, and especially during the first few plays, you can rarely win all the stars, but you should try and win as many as possible. Winning a star will have the benefits of winning you a relatively large sum of money (compared to the small amounts you will receive for doing any work at all), providing you with an answer to a work related question that your boss could ask you at any time, and boosting your confidence. Your boss will also respect you more if she catches you working when she enters the office.
TAKE A COURSE
At the computer you can also have Arin take a course, which will allow her to work faster and more efficiently (less need for breaks); hence helping you to win more stars. The courses do cost money, however, with the writing course costing Arin $400, the fashion course costing $700 and the design course costing $1,200. The increase in work speed is dependent on the cost of the course, with the design course giving you a huge increase in efficiency and speed. If you have enough money you do not need to do the courses in order and can do any one you want first.
HAVE A SNACK OR COFFEE
There is a snack machine and also a coffee machine in the office, where you can get various (healthy or unhealthy) snacks for Arin and also various types of coffee. These obviously cost money, but they are imperative for keeping Arin's energy levels up and helping her to work faster.
CHAT TO HUGH
At any point, you can click on Hugh and go and talk to him. To talk to him, you must pick a conversation topic and tone. Some of the options include:
* Ask out to bar
* Chat (you can pick from a section of chat topics, including "gossip")
* Criticize Margot
* Praise Margot
All options are not always available to you, but you must choose from the ones that are. Some of these options will get you respect from Hugh, some of them will make him like you, and some will have the opposite effect. His reactions to you will get more unpredictable and unfavourable as you progress to the harder levels, and you must choose how to respond to them.
CHAT TO YOUR BOSS
Your boss, Margot, is not always around, and will drift in and out of the office throughout the day. When she is around she will often approach you, but you can also choose to approach her. Some of the conversation options you can choose for her are:
* Chat (again there are various chat topics, including "words")
* Insult boss
* Criticize Hugh
* Suck up
Again, some options will gain her respect and friendship, while others will not. Her attitude also becomes a lot nastier as you progress to more difficult levels.
GO TO THE BAR
At any point during the game you can head to the bar for a martini or beer! The drink will raise your confidence levels but, be careful; Margot doesn't like you drunk. At the end of the day, when all the stars are done (or indeed, at any point!), you can, however, head to the bar with Hugh for a bit of flirting and conversation.
If you have a bit of money to spare, or you need to give Arin a bit of a break from work to refresh her energy levels, you can head to the shops. Or, I should say, to the shop; as there is only one shop available to you! In the shop there are several outfits to choose from, some which score huge points for professionalism and which will impress Margot, some which are high in sex appeal and which will impress Hugh, and some which will do both. Generally, the more expensive the outfit is the more it will impress.
At the beginning of the game, Arin is dressed in jeans and t-shirt, so one of your first tasks is to get some money and get her into a new outfit as quickly as you can, as Margot does not like her staff wearing jeans. You must also make sure you change Arin's outfit every morning (by going to her wardrobe and clicking on any of her other outfits), as apparently she chooses to sleep in her outfits for some unfathomable reason! It also helps to change her outfits a couple of times throughout the working day - very realistic, I know! - as this will increase Arin's confidence levels and progress.
At the shop you can also buy presents for Hugh or Margot to make them like you! You truly can bribe your way to the top!
WHAT I LIKED:
On the whole I really liked this game, and I find it very addictive. In fact, I have found myself playing it until 3am in the morning before, determined to get that promotion; sad, I know! One of the best things about this game is that it is very challenging and involves a high level of strategy.
There are various (often entirely unexpected) ways to get points and progress, and many different strategies you can choose. You therefore need to work out the best balance of activities and time, make decisions, work out tactics and try to overcome many hurdles (such as meeting dress code, pleasing boss, enticing Hugh, doing work and keeping energy levels up) all at the same time.
Some activities will also get you points, but will, at the same time, have negative consequences; so you must be quite strategic in deciding how to play. Flirting with Hugh, for instance, will get you lots of points with him, but will make Margot mad. Similarly, sucking up to your boss will make her like you, but will lose Hugh's respect. This high level of strategy makes the game very interesting and addictive, and also means that it is quite satisfying once you have mastered it.
Another thing that is fun about the game is the simulation side of it and that it is, as the publishers' promise, quite like playing out a sitcom. This effect is generated by the fact that the conversations are played out in audio, rather than appearing in typing on the screen, and also that the dialogue is quite amusing at times. It also helps that the game is fast paced, and that there is a clear story and aim to it. You know what your character is aiming for - it is made clear to you from the beginning - so there is purposefulness to the game and a clear goal and ending to your "sitcom".
This sitcom effect is also achieved by the contemporary setting and goal of the game. It appeals to its target audience - contemporary young women - by incorporating familiar themes of work and promotions, as well as including fun elements of fashion, shopping and romance.
A further positive about this game is that you can decide on your character's attitude. You can decide what to say to the other character's, how to act with them and how to play the game, and you can make Arin overly nice and a bit of a suck up (truthfully I generally go for this option; it's easier!) or give her a bit of a bitchy attitude. You can even choose to slap your boss, which can be pretty satisfying, although it generally doesn't get you very far!
Another good thing about this game is that the longevity of what could truthfully be a very short game is somewhat increased by a couple of innovative factors. First of all, the obvious option of being able to play the same game in easy, medium or hard triples its longevity because, once you have mastered one level, you will undoubtedly want to try again on the other two harder levels.
Secondly, the fact that the game is slightly different each time means that you can play it several times without getting bored. One thing that makes the game different is that, as mentioned before, you can experiment with many different strategies in the game and see what is the best way to get that promotion. For instance, you can try and win all the stars, or you can spend all your time flirting with Hugh, or you can try and progress by sucking up to Margot in a major way. There are many different ways of progressing and it is fun to try out all the different options.
Also, the game is made different each time by the fact that Hugh and Margot will act differently with Arin in different games and in different levels. Sometimes they will be nice to her, but sometimes they will suddenly turn on her and you will have to work really hard at winning them round. This makes the game more interesting as you never know what to expect.
The final thing that increases the longevity of the game is the inclusion of "perk points". Throughout the game you can win these so-called perk points in several areas of Arin's life and personality. These areas are: Bitch, Fashion, Romance and Ego. At the end of a succesful game, as well as your promotion you will get an overall score of perk points, as well as a score for each particular area, and be entered on a score board, similar to how you would be in an arcade style game. You are then invited to play again and try to beat your score. Although I have never really been tempted to do this, I appreciate how this could appeal to some and increase the longevity of the game, as you could play again and again with the purpose of a score to beat, rather than just going through the motions of the same game over and over.
WHAT I DISLIKED:
My initial problem with this game is that it is quite frustrating at first. As it is quite strategic, it is difficult at first to work out what to do from all the activities on offer. Also, for the first few times I played it I was so focused on just getting the stars that it felt like there was no time to do everything. I felt that the days were too short to fit everything in, and that for a large proportion of the day I was simply watching Arin's back as she worked for stars and, once she had them, the day was practically over.
I did feel at first that I did not have enough time for the fashion and romance aspects of the game and that there were many elements to the game but not enough time to take advantage of them. However, once I had worked out a better strategy for playing the game, I found it a lot less frustrating and that I could fit more stuff in. Basically, I think that the game is very challenging at first and, although I think that this is a good thing now, I would say that if you are not interested in strategy games and give up easily on things, this would not be the best buy.
One of my main problems with this game still, however, is that I feel that the game is too short and that the ending is a bit disappointing. The game is only a five day game, which you can finish in a matter of hours once you have got the hang of it. I feel that there should be a second phase to the game as it feels very unfinished with just one mission set over one week, and you are only just getting into it once it is finished. Also, at the end of that week I feel that the ending is not very satisfying. It gets to 5pm on Friday and it simply says: "You got the job", then ends. I don't know what I was expecting, but I just feel that there should be more of an ending after all your hard work!
I also think that as well as being short the game is not one that can be played over and over, as it gets a bit samey. Although the game has some good features which do increase the longevity of the game from what it could be (as mentioned above) I still think that after a few games it would definitely lose its appeal. I downloaded this game for free, but I think that if I had paid for it I would feel a bit annoyed by this.
Another negative thing about this game is that the scoring system is quite bizarre! Although the game is good in terms of entertainment, realism is often forgoed in favour of entertainment and it is very unrealistic at times. One instance of this is that I found while playing the game that, while working relentlessly will not get you a promotion, drinking for hours in the bar while flirting with Hugh just may! Some other things that will help you progress towards that promotion are buying sexy underwear, drinking coffee and spending time with Hugh in the bedroom! I don't know about it being more fun than real life, but it is certainly a lot more ridiculous!
And this leads me on to my main issue with the game, which is its questionable morals! I know I may sound like a nana, but I just think the morals of a game are a bit off when it encourages you to bribe, drink and sleep your way to a promotion! I know it is just a game, but I find it a bit disturbing when Arin is given the option to head off to the bedroom with Hugh - a truly annoying and arrogant character who she actually seems to despise - in order to get a promotion. I know the game is supposed to be about romance, but truthfully I don't find that particularly romantic.
And I guess that leads me on to my final problem with the game, which is that the characters are quite annoying! I find it ridiculous that you have to flirt with the incredibly annoying Hugh to progress in the game, and truthfully I also think Arin is a bit of a sap (although this may because I opt for the sucking up strategy of game play?). This criticism of the game is not helped by the fact that the dialogue between characters is a bit limited. Although there are various options to choose from, the characters will only say the same couple of sentences over and over again for each option, and this gets boring after a while.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR GAME ACCORDING TO OBERON MEDIA:
(AKA The boring bit that I don't quite understand!)
* Windows XP, Vista
* Processor speed: Pentium 3 800 MHz
* RAM: 32 MB
* Hard drive space (uncompressed): 51 MB
* Graphics Card: 8 MB or better
* Sound Card: needed
* DirectX version: 7
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY:
This game is available from many sources, but I downloaded it from iwingames.com for free. The thing with iWin Games, if you are not familiar with them, is that if you play the games for free they are interrupted every so often with adverts (which last for 30 seconds). I felt this was worth the sacrifice for a free game, however! You can also purchase this game (advertless) from iWin Games for $9.99 (roughly £6.40 with current conversion rates).
RECOMENDED FOR: Older teenagers and twenty something women who are interested in fashion, romance (if you could call it that!) and strategising.
MARKS OUT OF 10 FOR:
STORYLINE - 7
ADDICTIVENESS - 9
INNOVATIVENESS - 9
GRAPHICS - 7
MUSIC - 5
LENGTH - 5
LONGEVITY - 6
OVERALL GAME - 7
RECOMMENDED? - I think so. Not vehemently, but it is a fairly fun, challenging games for young women. Just don't spend too much on it; the fun doesn't last long!