‘Britney Spears: American Dream’ Game Review: A Dream Within a ‘Dream’
Britney Spears is no stranger to the gaming industry.
I suspect that those of you who are willing to read a longform review of the soon-to-be Millennium Award-winning Las Vegas showgirl's new mobile game might also be familiar with her first foray into the virtual world, 2002's Britney's Dance Beat for Playstation 2 and Game Boy Advance, in which players auditioned to become a dancer on Britney's tour by mashing buttons to the beat. It was like Dance Dance Revolution, kind of.
Years later, B-Girl had the toy scene shook with the game-changing Twister Dance in 2012, a funky variation on the classic tangly-limb game on the floor involving a portable music player and color-coordinated spots.
Way to rock the spots, ladies.
Today (well, yesterday), Britney — together with Glu Mobile, the makers of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Kendall & Kylie and notorious flop Katy Perry Pop — blessed us with Britney Spears: American Dream, a mobile game in which Britney Spears herself helps you to become the pop superstar you were born to become.
Admittedly, I've never played Kim Kardashian's Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, because I am not a sheep. But! Because I write professionally on The Internet, I still feel like I played it because of the sheer amount of tweets and #thinkpieces about the game when it launched two years ago.
Therefore, based on gameplay previews over the past few months, I could already tell that Britney Spears: American Dream would essentially be the exact same game as Kim's own, just repackaged with Britney Spears.
Translation: Take all of my money.
Before you start playing American Dream, you must take a good, hard look at the girl in the mirror and, like Ariana Grande, become who you really are.
Like The Sims, Britney Spears: American Dream offers a wide variety of customizations for your avatar. I gave myself star tattoos on my forearm because I'm trash, put on a henley and spent at least 15 minutes deciding which nose most accurately represented my actual big nose. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
But don't worry: much like in real life, you can change pretty much everything about your appearance as soon as you hit play.
Because American Dream has layers, it kicks off with a glimpse into the future.
There I am, looking fierce on stage live at Piece Of Me with Britney, who appears to be in the middle of performing "Work Bitch." She reminds me of the day we first met.
"Like it was yesterday..." I reply, as if I wouldn't just start crying on the spot.
And away we go!
I'm working at an Amoeba Records knock-off record store when I get a call from my bestie, Sara Williams. She's a mess, and she's always wearing that awful scarf, but I feel bad because she has that thing with her neck and also there was the whole drama with her dad going to jail last year, but it's a long story and I don't want to talk about it.
Anyway, she tells me that Britney F--king Spears is standing in line at Starbeans (DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE WITH THAT NAME?), and I'm all like "Bye, work."
To be fair, this would also be the case in real life. Sorry, employers.
I rush over, and sure enough, there she is, ordering a Strawberry Whippaccino at the counter. Classic Britney.
Somehow, I work up the nerve to talk to her — mostly because I would like to get away from Sara. Like, I love you, Sara, but I'm sick of it.
This happens, and I'm already overwhelmed.
I don't even know what happens next because I blackout (REFERENCE), but somehow I end up on a stage performing for the same Living Legend who recorded "...Baby One More Time."
She likes what she's hearing (WHAT?) and, being the unusual angel she is, invites me to a StarCore Media Party at String to meet with Boss Lady Manager Anne Means. Panic.
I dress for the event in the way I'm usually dressed in real life, but something tells me Britney is lying to me about my outfit.
Manager Anne wants none of my bulls--t once I meet her, which I totally get, because who wears a towel to a networking soiree? She tells me to go perform at The Venom Room and make a name for myself if I'm really any good, and then maybe I can audition for her. Sure, but where are the mozzarella sticks, Boss Lady?
Some nobody named Aston Kole is supposed to perform at The Venom Room that night, but she's late, so I take her place.
I nail it, duh.
Gulp. That's when I meet her after the show: Aston Kole, my rival, who looks vaguely like X Factor USA's Cece Frey meets American Idol's Kimberly Caldwell meets Ellie Goulding. And she's THE WORST. Oh my God, I can't. She's so jealous, nasty and shady.
I do like her outfit, though.
Sara calls me at home afterward, and honestly, she sounds drunk again. I'm not even sure if we're actually friends at this point or if I just feel bad for her. There was that time with her dog getting sick and her cancelling her trip to Bali and — never mind. I'm not even getting into it right now.
More importantly, people are TWEETERING ABOUT ME! #MorePlz
Anne wants me to come in to her office and audition, so I finally put on some clothes. I have to stand there pretending like I'm not plotting how to steal her Blackout poster instead of listening to what she's actually saying before I sing.
Obviously I nail the audition, and she sends me off to the recording studio. Stay pressed and obsessed, Aston Kole.
Here I am, recording my debut dance-pop single "Buy Lotus (On iTunes)" with my new guitarist friend, Bobbi Hall.
You don't actually get to hear your singles in this game, by the way. But I'm sure it's very good.
Blah, blah, blah. I'm promoting my debut smash and it's climbing the charts. I even hook up with acclaimed director Mick Hudson to shoot my music video until — EXCUSE ME?
Rumors? In the press? About my God-given natural vocal talent? Oh, hell no.
I didn't put myself through four years at Berklee bussing tables and go go boy-ing at Club Cafe for this bulls--t. (The irony of Britney's own voice being called into question throughout her entire career is not lost on me here.)
Cut to me flying to Chicago just to do a radio interview and prove myself with a live acoustic rendition of "Buy Lotus on iTunes," thanks to Aston Kole spreading LIES in the tabloids. Also, I forgot to take a screenshot in Chicago because I was really flustered by the whole experience.
My loneliness is killing me in between of all this drama evidently, so Britney proves herself to be a tireless LGBTQ warrior by having my drunk BFF Sara slip in this casual "it's fine that you're gay, you just really need to get laid" moment.
I didn't try playing through the "right girl" option, but I don't think anyone who is playing a Britney Spears mobile game will select that option, either.
Rudy is literally my dream man in every way, except for that hair. He smells like a broad clearing in the woods, stale cigarettes and safety. Bradley Jahshan — it has a ring to it, don't you think? I should book a synagogue now.
Wait. Sorry. Getting too carried away.
My first date with Rudy is amazing, you guys.
I charm my beau-to-be with sensual tasks like "Eat A Salad" and "Take A Selfie Together." (I've been doing dating all wrong, but I don't need Britney Spears: American Dream to tell me that.) "You put me at ease, Bradley." No one has ever said this to me on a date, or in life, ever. I feel warm inside, and am no longer sure if this is merely a virtual love.
But it's back to work, bitch: I set off to the studio to record my follow-up single, "RebellionSnippet.MP3." I'm present physically, but my mind is elsewhere. And why did I even hire Sara to play keyboards? Look at her face. Completely wasted. She's such a mess.
I can already tell that juggling my career as a pop superstar, becoming Britney's new best friend (BYE Sara) and being a loving, devoted bae to Rudy is going to be incredibly tricky...and all of this within just 24 hours.
Will fame change me? Have I already changed? Is this all just...a dream within a dream?
Everything about Britney Spears: American Dream is delightfully absurd, largely because it rests on the ridiculous notion that Britney Spears is by any means accessible to humans who are not her management team or her family.
Britney calls you personally, shows up unannounced at meetings, clubs and restaurants and regularly invites you to her mansion to talk business. Sure, for Kim Kardashian, there's at least a 10% chance that could possibly happen in real life. But Britney?
We all know Britney Spears lives in a moat-encircled fortress protected by an elite security team and only interfaces with mortals during her Piece Of Me Meet & Greets. That, and that she's too busy posting images of corn and Albert Einstein on Instagram to be bothered with thinking about the music industry — let alone advancing my sad career.
As for the actual game itself? The key, as I understand it, is to collect "B-Gems," which you can then cash in for energy lightning bolts to perform tasks like dating or performing. The catch is that you run out of energy fairly quickly, so you either have to wait for it to replenish for several minutes/hours/days, watch 30-second ads for other video games and sign up for spam websites for free B-Gems, or purchase B-Gems using your actual money. (Granted, I've done far more for far less, but I'm still not doing that...yet.)
There's also some interaction opportunities between players, including a general public chat room, user-created record labels and the ability to buy people clothing and items. But, let's be clear: I'm not here to make friends — unless it's Britney calling.
The great irony of American Dream is that, much like The Holy Spearit's career in recent years, this game involves a lot of waiting and seeing — unless you're willing to shell out real cash, which this game hasn't broken my spirit enough to do yet. (Spending on trips to Vegas to see Brit Brit on the other hand? She's got a direct line to my checking account.)
Patient American Dream fans will be rewarded in replenished energy, romantic dates and chart-topping singles — much like patient Britney fans IRL who will be made to oooh sometime later this summer.
That being said, she did record actual vocals for her character ("Great!"), and I fully expect a Brazilian producer to thread those tiny Spearitual tidbits across a hot dance beat within the next few weeks. (I'm only half kidding. This will likely happen.)
For now, I will continue to stare into Rudy's warm, pixelated eyes and imagine fixing finger sandwiches in the kitchen at our summer home in the Hamptons as he sits on the couch catching up on Grace & Frankie. I don't care for his mother, but she's coming over later for a light lunch poolside. You know, I do worry about Rudy sometimes. He's got that bad knee. And that temper. And there is that...lingering perfume. I'm trying to be cool. Am I being paranoid? Am I seeing things? Am I just insecure? I want to believe it's just Rudy and me. Sometimes it feels like there's three of us in here...
Anyway. Great game!
Britney Kicks Off Remixed, Reimagined and Still Iconic Piece Of Me: