Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is potential cathartism for those who found/still find the dating game to be utter gubbins.
I was terrible at the dating game. Stuttering and fumbling through awkward meals like a low-rent Hugh Grant attached to a pneumatic drill, only a bit less charming. I once spent the entirety of a bus ride home with a date fighting of a dark mix of nerves and travel-sickness, and subsequently launched a carton of partially-digested pasta from my gurgling stomach onto the pavement the second we departed the bus. Surprisingly, that relationship went no further,and I now detest buses just that little bit more. Mercifully I found someone outside of that dating nonsense and haven’t had to consider that horrid mess. Through the Power of Kitty, I can help virtual folk through one of life’s most intolerable experiences.
Matchmaker puts you in charge of a dating agency. You start as a nobody with zero rep, and the only way to build up your burgeoning business is to pair off as many people successfully as you can. To do this, you must become master of the minigames.
You’ll be presented with clients (pleasingly featuring a few different orientations and worldviews) who arrive at your office, and you cross reference their likes, dislikes, interests etc, with the selection of potential suitors you have in your black book. Your choices are limited to begin with, but there’s usually enough clues to go on so that you can matchmake fairly effectively before sending the pair off on a date at one of the local themed restaurants with food from Britain, Jamaica, Italy, France and more (they all have groan-worthy innuendo for names too).
On the date, you’ll be supplying your client with suggestions on what to say in order to prevent their match buggering off to the loo and escaping via the window (or something to that effect, as I have yet to see anyone do that exactly). You feed info via an earpiece and at points during the date questions will be asked that have multiple answers, some right, some wrong, and some that are blatantly lies. The idea is to get everything correctly corresponding with the feelings of the match. If you have to lie in order to keep that run going, you’re sent into a roulette wheel minigame that determines whether you pull the lie off or not.
Lying does seem to affect the post-dating agency part of successful pairings however. Get your client to tell too many porkies and you’ll likely find out later the relationship went nowhere fast, damaging your reputation. So juggling genuine answers with the odd little white lie ends up being the best route for success for the many dates where the duo aren’t a match made in heaven.
Other minigame obstacles get thrown your way during dates, with distractions expanding the bigger your agency gets. Among the things your clients need to overcome are flatulent outbreaks, ex-partners, not knowing math, remembering the correct dessert choice, and noticing what the other person changed about themselves during their trip to the bathroom. While there is a bit of repetition, the manner in which you get to tackle dates is pretty enjoyable, with the innuendo and cliche-ridden dialogue exchanges, that comes off more awkwardly charming than dread-inducing, adding a bit of cheddar seasoning to proceedings.
Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is a decent enough game then, but there are still some caveats and criticisms to be found within its gaudy pink-hued walls. Make no bones about it, this is almost unashamedly a mobile game port, and the limitations associated with that platform are very much apparent in Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker (though in its defence, it also has a pleasing bite-sized gameplay quality because of this). Visually-speaking things are quite basic, with cartoon cutout approximations of sub-cultures (geeks, hipsters etc) moving rigidly against the same few backgrounds while the titular Kitty chimes in with a quip here and there. These quips, alongside the rest of the dialogue, start to repeat and annoy in time too, drawing from a relatively small pool of ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ phrases..
You could also question the cost factor, with the mobile version being released a couple of years back and costing less than the price of a pint, to release it on PS4 for a shade under a tenner in 2017 seems like a bit too much for what you get, especially as you lose that portability provided by a mobile version. You’ll have fun, but limited fun overall, so the higher price may make you wary of investing in something you could buy on your phone for a quarter of the cost.
Despite that, there’s no denying there’s little to fault with the core Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker experience. It’s a light, fun business-management style game that plays up to its camp side unapologetically. In a sea of drab low-level PS Store clutter, it’s nice to see something a touch brighter and sillier break through the turgid surf.