While cheekily named developer Wet Productions seem keen to point out there’s absolutely nothing pornographic about My Virtual Girlfriend, its marketing campaign does involve considerably more screenshots of attractive young women in nothing but skimpy lingerie than that of your average iPhone game.
As a result, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect the first time I loaded up the game. Good clean fun? Or had the notoriously prudish Apple let this one slip under their radar? Well, in the flesh, the game is about as risque as the swimwear section of a Sears catalog, but thankfully what it lacks in outright sex appeal, it makes up for with enjoyable gameplay, pretty 3D visuals, and some genuinely hilarious moments.
Aimed squarely at the male demographic (although my *real* girlfriend did spend a worrying amount of time playing it), My Virtual Girlfriend is basically a tamagotchi for those who’ve outgrown caring for digital pets and clearing up virtual excrement. Cast as boyfriend to one of the game’s bevy of beauties, your job is to do whatever it takes to keep your new lady happy and avoid being given the boot.
This boils down to a frothy blend of The Sims/Virtual Pet style gaming and RPG-esque levelling up made more interesting by the title’s firm grasp of observational comedy. Honestly if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’re more or less guaranteed any number of “it’s funny because it’s true!” moments as you flirt, charm, lie and buy your way through My Virtual Girlfriends‘ crash course in the do’s and don’ts of dating.
Gameplay consists of fielding awkward questions – most variations on that old doozy, “does my bum look big in this?” – bankrupting yourself by showering her with gifts, putting up with pouting when you’ve got to go to work to pay for those gifts, grinning like a madman through endless rom-coms and reruns of Sex and The City, enduring long walks in the park, pretending to enjoy ice-skating, and eating fancy food at a swanky restaurant while secretly fretting about the size of the bill… you know, all the little things that make a real relationship so much, um, fun. Not to mention challenging!
As you play, your progress is displayed in the top-right corner on a heart-shaped love-o-meter. With each new level you reach, more actions, options and items are unlocked and can be used to further woe your girlfriend. Or indeed turn her off. Because rather brilliantly, Wet also throws some no-no’s like picking your nose or farting out loud into the mix. Play your cards right though, and your virtual girlfriend will be yours forever. Oh, and you might even convince her to model that silk lingerie you bought her!
Overall, I quite enjoyed the time I spent with My Virtual Girlfriend. It’s most definitely a looker (in more ways than one), it’s raunchy and fun in equal measure, and is bound to raise a smile from any gamer who’s ever had a girlfriend. However a few flaws do rear their ugly heads from time to time. The girls have an irritating tendency to repeat themselves, the dialogue is clunky in parts (especially the cringe-worthy street slang), and ultimately the game lacks purpose and doesn’t really go anywhere.
That said, Wet do seem committed to updating My Virtual Girlfriend with new levels and content, however I’d also love to see them add a selection of mini-games in future versions. For example, the money making sections and other activities – going to work, donating blood, tidying the apartment etc – strike me as an ideal opportunity for the inclusion of some fun little distractions from the core gameplay, which could help extend the titles’ longevity no end.
Recommended, but file under guilty pleasure.
iFanzine Verdict: My Virtual Girlfriend looks good, is fun to spend time with, has a great sense of humor, and knows how to be a little naughty. In other words, everything I look for in a woman. Oh right, and, er, iPhone games.