Detective Barbie 2: The Vacation Mystery

Yes! Barbie’s back! It seems that the initial outing for Team Barbie Detective in Barbie Detective (which I will probably eventually acquire so it can be entered into the database) was popular enough to warrant a sequel. So Barbie, Ken, and their wheelchair-bound friend — together comprising a formidable crime-solving force — take off on a much-needed vacation only to find themselves toe to toe with another tantalizing mystery at their resort destination.

So how bad could this really be, right? I’ve suffered through quite a lot, Barbie-wise, for the sake of this blog and MobyGames. What could this game possibly serve up to push me to the brink? How about this Barbie Detective theme song which forcibly plays during installation? Listen to it; listen to it all! Share in my pain…

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It’s darn creepy, mind you, the male singer crooning inappropriately that, “there’s just one girl you need to call / and she will … ease … your … mind.”

I’m not afraid, though, so I pressed forth. And I’m glad I did because this is the kind of game I live for in this Gaming Pathology project. Games that elicit just the right combination of awe, bewilderment, and outright guffaws. Really, I haven’t laughed so hard at a game while being simultaneously stunned since… I don’t know, maybe Secret Agent Barbie.

Remember that one music trivia game I played, Radio Active, the one that stored a database of 761 possible player names so it could personally address you? Before I found the fixed database, I wondered if it might actually sound out the name you input. Detective Barbie 2 actually does just that:

Detective Barbie 2 -- Sounding out your name

Yeah, it’s a little weird when you first study the list. You can click on any of the selections and the game will cheerfully sound it out, though many of the adjacent selections sound the same. Throughout the game, Barbie will specifically address you by this name, although the pronunciation tends to sound a tad inconsistent with her normal speech patterns.

So, about the story: Team Barbie Detective arrives at the Inn at Lighthouse Cove for a little R&R. The Inn, it must be noted, was built by an eccentric inventor and is known to be loaded with puzzles. Before they even get a chance to check in and bring their bags in from the car, the team learns from the innkeeper that some long-forgotten antique jewelry has been stolen. This makes me wonder how they knew it had been stolen if it was already long forgotten. But that’s just what the manual indicated. The in-game narrative is a little fuzzier on the details. I just know I’m supposed to wander around the Inn and surrounding grounds in search of “clues,” ones that usually hang out in plain sight, as we’ll see a bit later. Some are only visible with the help of the magnifying glass that Barbie finds and takes a shine to:

Detective Barbie 2 -- Clue on the lighthouse globe

When hovering the magnifying glass over the globe, a handprint glows green. I suspect I was supposed to care, but I couldn’t find a way to act on it.

Detective Barbie 2 was developed by Gorilla Systems Corporation. They were also responsible for Barbie as Sleeping Beauty as well as Barbie Magic Genie Bottle (and presumably the custom accessory that came with it). This game is based on a marginal 3D engine, perhaps similar to that found in Magic Genie Bottle. You guide Barbie left, right, forward, and back against a backdrop that scales in and out when going forward or back on the plane. It started to make me wonder if these were just straight bitmaps that were scaled in and out. However, Barbie can go behind and in front of objects. Further, she casts quasi-accurate shadows, so there might be some actual 3D work going on here.

When using the magnifying glass over a region, all the pixels are just made bigger and blockier.

Detective Barbie 2 -- International chef

Along the way, the player talks to a colorful cast of characters, each of whom is naturally a suspect. Take the chef above, for example. Personally, I found her most suspect characteristic to be her accent, which seemed to shift between French, German, and Russian. I would like to include a sample here but I can’t figure out the coding format the speech samples are stored in.

Here’s another nitpicky detail I got hung up on:

Detective Barbie 2 -- Kelly in a wheelchair

So teammate Kelly is wheelchair-bound. Fine, not a big deal. I’m just wondering how they managed to transport Kelly’s motorized wheelchair in Barbie’s pink convertible roadster:

Detective Barbie 2 -- Pink, convertible, spacious roadster

And what kind of car is that, anyway? At first, it looked a bit like a Porsche. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a spacious Porsche convertible.

So, like I said, Barbie has to walk around the place and be spoon-fed clues and cues to advance the plot. Further, there are a few, more action-oriented activities, such as boat racing and hang gliding. I found the latter activity during my brief play. There wasn’t really any point (goal) to it that I could find; just a brief diversion. This is supposed to be a vacation after all.

I have to admit, the Inn was constructed beautifully enough that I rather enjoyed exploring the grounds, though I often had to fight with the awkward control scheme to do so (push the mouse cursor to extreme edges of the screen to make Barbie move). It’s just too bad I couldn’t bring myself to care too deeply about the mystery at hand. However, I got one last giant laugh from this scene and then decided I had reached my Barbie limit for the evening:

Detective Barbie 2 -- Floating teacup clue

I must have tripped a plot point by visiting some other location because when I returned to this room, what do I find, but a phantom teacup just sort of floating there. This game isn’t supposed to have supernatural elements to it so I can only assume that this is merely an idiosyncrasy of the 3D engine. Anyway, I photograph it and feed the data into the portable crime computer. Kelly then notifies me via videoconference that it appears to be a teacup, most likely used for a garden party. She says this seriously as though it’s some kind of critical clue.

This game is just ridiculous enough that I’m tempted to play it again some time to see what other kinds of amusement might await.

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18 thoughts on “<span>Detective Barbie 2: The Vacation Mystery</span>”

  1. Kayla says:

    My friend and I played this game today, and I haven’t played it since I was quite young.

    We absolutely loved the lengthy database of (mostly) ghettolicious names and their alternate spellings, but we mostly got a kick out of the name “Qecpfcnh” which apparently is pronounced “Candoline”. You should definitely check that out, it was hilarious. We thought it was maybe a mistake, but Qecpfcnn and Qecpfcne are pronounced the same way. I don’t really understand the logic behind it.

    Anyway, my friend and I made a short video of us playing the game, and it should be uploaded to my youtube account in a few days. I included the link with my name as I posted, so you should definitely check it out when it’s up. Sorry about the fact that I laugh so damn much haha, I think my laugh is kinda annoying.

    We also found giant sugar cubes and a huge diamond that was just laying around in the flowers outside. Trying to go to the maze (to the right of the greenhouse outside) would make the game freeze; did you have a similar problem with this?

    Really glad to find someone to share my amazing experiences with today, haha!


  2. Patrick says:

    Trying to reach the maze causes my game to freeze as well. Also, in the room through the large doors in the back-right of the ballroom, there’s a boy that you can play a game with which will open up a secret passage. After entering it, the game freezes.

    And do the beach riding and boat mini-games just loop? I was never able to catch up to the other rider and gave up after a few minutes.

  3. Karma says:

    I have the exact same problem. My game always freezes whenever I go to the maze. When I played this game as a kid, it never froze. Now I want to share this game with my nieces and it won’t let me go to the maze. That’s like the first place you have to go in the game, isn’t it? How strange. I guess I’m not the only one who has that problem. But I wonder how it can be corrected.

  4. Haley says:

    Yes! oh my gosh i am soo dissapointed because I had this game about 8 years ago and played it when I was young and it always shut off when I got to the maze. Now just last week I began thinking that I wanted to finally finish it. I bought it on ebay and the same thing happens!
    If anyone knows how to fix this, pleaseeee let us know!

  5. Lily says:

    Uffda! Mein childhood!

    Actually, the first game was more “mein childhood”. Oh I can remember the countless hours I sat in front that ugly CRT screen, trying to convince the name listy thing to let choose a moniker that did not begin with “A”. I scrolled down for what may have been months before I realized the keyboard was THERE FOR A REASON.

    The agonizingly slow movement of the purple pant-suited Barbie, I soon became convinced that in fact, she was the perpetrator of the heinous crime of kidnapping Ken and stealing money that had been donated to orphans (or was it dolphins? My memory grows hazy).

    I would have much rather played as her gimpy sidekick with the computer, Becky.

    It was years before I mastered the game. And once I had mastered it, I promptly had another mystery on my hand as the CD and everything mysteriously vanished, departing forever to the Bermuda Triangle.

  6. Lauren says:

    Oh I loved this game! Though I liked the first Barbie Detective more, that one doesn’t work on my computer whilst the Holiday Adventure does.
    My game never used to freeze at the maze but yep it does now for me. The game can still be completed though. To complete the mystery you need to solve 3 of the 4 puzzles in the game (garden maze, lighthouse, piano, reception) – the game chooses a random 3 for you to solve. So if you play it enough times then randomly you won’t need to do the garden puzzle and it can be solved. It’s a bit heartbreaking when you have it that the last puzzle is the garden one! Saving and quitting doesn’t seem to change it either, the game picks which 3 when you start the mystery.
    Happy sleuthing guys! :D And yes, catching the culprit is ridiculously difficult on all the modes. Just try and keep them in sight!

  7. Lauren says:

    The Holiday Adventure is actually just the English name for the Vacation Mystery, sorry I should’ve clarified :)
    I love your reports on these. They’re hilarious! Do you take requests?

  8. Jaime says:

    OMG!! your reports are so funny, love reading them. I was so happy to come across the comments because mine also freezes at the maze and the creepy little games room boy. Now I’m gonna try restarting the whole game so I don’t get the scary poltergeist-like teacup that clearly needs to be defined as a teacup that would be used at a garden party. This is such a lol game but I love it! The music freaks me out though,as does the random bursts of evil laughter and the creepy music…Thanks for the help :)
    ps is there absolutely no way to clear up this freezing problem?

  9. Farimah says:

    I have the same problem now, when i go to maze but when I was kid that worked correctly. I think it’s because of our windows. Nowadays our windows is 7, vista or xp and it’s hardly ever 98! This game needs only its own reqiurment.when I was kid, we used to have windows 98. And because of that the barbie worked correctly and now i can remember that beautiful maze. I hope my advise could help.

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