All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


American Girl: Mia Goes for Great

Score: 72%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: ImaginEngine Corp.
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Family/ Edutainment

Graphics & Sound:

Mia Goes for Great is another game in the American Girl series of games produced by THQ. It remains consistent with the last game in this series that I reviewed, Julie Saves the Eagles, in almost every way. So if you're just looking for a new story, but not a new game, that's what you'll get here.

Backgrounds are a vibrant mix of CG and real-life images. There are lots of little details that make it easy on the eyes. The character models are again pre-rendered. While they are not bad looking, there's not much in the way of fluid animation. The eyes on everyone seem a little creepy too, but you don't see too many close-ups, thankfully.

Music and sound effects are pleasant and match the mood of the game. Some of the songs are actually pretty nice, and none of it is grating or annoying. It's all soft and stays in the background. All dialogue is voiced by actors with the same super-pleasant tone again. It sounds like the girl is voiced by the same actress as Julie Saves the Eagles as well, or at least she matches the tone and dialogue style very closely.


Mia Goes for Great follows the story of Mia, a young girl who enjoys ice skating. She's given the big task of creating her own original routine for a performance. It sends her on a hunt for various things: someone to sharpen her skates, music for the routine, a costume. And again she goes through similar difficulties when her coach pushes her to enter into regionals, although her family's strained budget forces her to get a bit more resourceful the second time around.

Mia overcomes a lot of adversity and setbacks on her way to skating in the regionals. The general lesson seems to be to never give up, and that's good. This is a game you really don't have to worry about putting in front of a young child. One thing that is kind of disappointing is that Mia lacks a real, distinct personality, but I wonder if that was on purpose. I suppose these are stories that fans of the American Girl dolls are supposed to roleplay, so perhaps a lack of a distinct personality gives young kids the opportunity to be more creative with that. Ok, I'm probably reading too much into that, but it's a theory.

This search and talk to everyone routine isn't necessarily bad in itself, but I was left feeling there wasn't much to explore in Mia Goes for Great. Add that to the fact that this game is extremely short, it feels like it's over before it's begun. It's so brief I almost get the feeling that this game was supposed to be packed in with the corresponding book or doll, but it is a standalone game.


Much like Julie Saves the Eagles, Mia Goes for Great is very linear, and there's only a limited number of things to interact with, even with all the detailed backgrounds you encounter. For example, books you need will only show up in the library when you hit the point in the story where you need them. So don't expect to go around picking up interesting items and finding creative solutions to puzzles. The hardest it gets is combining earphones with a music player. The main focus here is on story.

There is also the fact that there is only one map to explore in this game, so you don't have to go searching too far or wide if you're stumped on what to do next. Another thing you'll have no trouble with is the mini-game difficulty. In fact, you don't have to complete them at all in order to advance. In one mini-game, you match snowflake icons in order to clear a pond of snow. Mia's brother asks her to help him clear the pond before he'll give her a vital item that she needs. But you don't have to clear the pond at all. You don't even have to play the game and her brother will still thank her for the job well done and give her the item.

Only one portion of the game will really present any difficulty and that is the skating portion. But due to the forgiving game mechanics, it's pretty much built for you to win. If you mess up, you have to start the routine over again. There's no losing screen to be found here.

Game Mechanics:

Mia Goes for Great is almost identical to Julie Saves the Eagles and therefore probably identical to the rest of the series. The game is simple point-and-click fare. There are no real puzzles and mini-games are optional, so again, it's really just a matter of talking and exploring until you find something that advances the game. Again you run into the problem of Mia not following your click if she has an obstacle in front of her. Likewise she won't talk to people if she's not lined up correctly, so sometimes you need to get her to move away and then come back. So there is a bit of frustration in that, but it can be managed.

One big difference between this and Julie Saves the Eagles is the skating portion of the game, where you have to demonstrate a bit of timing and reflexes. You don't have to do much, you just hit the corresponding up, down, left, or right key when the command lights up. You're not penalized for mashing keys, so you can pretty much hit away until you get it right. Even players that are younger than the age recommendation should be able to get through this with few setbacks.

From the looks of Mia Goes for Great, it appears that the American Girl games are getting shorter and simpler. While simpler could have been an improvement, the way things are going, these will end up being audio books where you click to advance to the next sentence. It would be nice to have something interesting happen or to have some more cognitive involvement show up in these games, even the inclusion of simple choices to make in the dialogue. But as it is, it's pretty much a walk through. And now it's a short walk, so keep that in mind if you're trying to get a lot of game for your money here.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium 4 1.4 GHz or higher processor, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0 or higher (included on CD), 32 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card, DirectX compatible sound card, 4X CD-ROM drive

Recommended Requirements: Pentium 4 1.4 GHz or compatible, 1 GB RAM, DirectX 9.0 or higher(included on CD), nVidia or ATI accelerated DirectX 9.0 3D video card, DirectX compatible sound card, 4X CD-ROM drive


Test System:

Windows XP, 3.20 GigaHertz Intel Pentium 4, 4 GB Ram, RADEON X850, Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS

Nintendo DS Zoo Tycoon 2 DS Sony PlayStation Portable Downstream Panic!

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated