The Most Essential Barbie Video Games, Ranked


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Barbie poses in a store with dresses in this screenshot from Barbie for Commodore 64.

Before Greta Gerwig exploded some men’s brains with her blockbuster Barbie movie earlier this summer, and some decades after toy company Mattel exploded parents’ wallets with the Barbie doll in 1959, video game companies released a bunch of Barbie games.


The first Barbie game—Barbie, for the Commodore 64—released in 1984. It reinforced the most sexist ideas one might see embodied by the doll (more on this later), and throughout the years after that, male-dominated developer teams never determined exactly what the Amazonian blonde had to do with gaming. Is she only a happy homemaker, as 1994 computer game Barbie and Her Magical House implies? Or is she dedicated enough to adventure that she’d brave sharks and stinging jellyfish to go on a date, like she did in the 1992 Game Boy title Barbie: Game Girl (made with assistance from Dead Space director Glen Schofield)? There are so many conflicted, clashing Barbie games, but none of them were strong enough, even with the IP’s long legs, to break into big-budget, mainstream gaming. There are, however, enough B-list Barbies to ironically rank in a slideshow. So I did that.

If you ask me, Amazonian blondes are highly compatible with boulders and daggers, and I eagerly await Barbie: Tomb Raider (the toothless 2001 Tomb Raider clone Barbie: Explorer just doesn’t cut it). Until then, here’s what we’re working with.

Release year: 2010

Platform: Nintendo DS, Wii; released on 3DS in 2013

How dumb it is: 3DS copies of Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups have sold for thousands of dollars, regrettably, not because the game is good, but because it happens to be considered one of the rarest 3DS games in existence.


I am happy that Groom and Glam Pups has that accolade going for it, because it has very little else. While being an airheaded, but highly paid, Beverly Hills dog trainer is in many ways a dream of mine, Groom and Glam Pups singes it with its stiff animations and lackluster grooming mechanics (you can’t even see your puppy’s fur smoothing out as you brush it!). It cowers in Nintendogs’ tremendous shadow.

Release year: 2002

Platform: PC

How dumb it is: The concept—decide on a skate style and routine for either Barbie, Christie, or Teresa, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to speed up or slow down—is inoffensive, but the execution is lackluster.


While a routine contains a few customizable elements (you can let your Barbie skate in a little French black-and-white stripe bodysuit if you’re feeling generous) and set pieces (you can defy natural law and skate surrounded by palm trees), there is regrettably no game soundtrack. Players awkwardly only hear their Barbie’s measured crunching as her skate blade meets the floor. Then Barbie, as narrator, cuts in with a condescending observation that “That was awesome.” Yeah, I know. Thanks.

Release year: 2015

Platform: iOS, Android

How dumb it is: Barbie Superstar! Music Video Maker is vibrant, with a slow-talking narrator, and so the music video generator was likely somewhat entertaining to babies when it was still available on app stores. There’s, disappointingly, a less myriad group of Barbies to choose from than decades-old Barbie games had to offer, but at least Music Video Maker enables camera and microphone pairing to teach children to disregard facial recognition tech early.

Release year: 1993

Platform: Sega Genesis, SNES, MS-DOS

How dumb it is: Barbie: Super Model isn’t imaginative enough to be truly dumb. In it, you drive around in Barbie’s sick pink Corvette and complete unexciting minigames, including one where you occasionally avoid birds to absorb stars, and another where you swap Barbie’s accessories to match those you’re shown on a magazine cover. It’s boring, though not offensively so.

Release year: 1999

Platform: PlayStation

How dumb it is: Barbie: Race & Ride is a first-person horse racing game. This isn’t an inherently bad concept, I guess, but there are only so many minutes you can spend watching the bobbing back of an animated horse head.


Sometimes, during a ride, you encounter a tree full of oohing owls, or acorns that need to be scooped into a basket in a minigame. The excitement only lasts a few seconds. I remember being more enthralled by the part where you can scrub your horse with soapy water, because the foam would make it look like a grape.

Release year: 1997

Platform: PC

How dumb it is: Barbie Magic Hair Styler has no secrets. It’s a game where your Windows computer’s cursor helps you magically style Barbie’s hair.


It’s another straightforward concept. But I appreciate that, unlike the one-note Barbies—white, with billowing blonde hair, waists about as wide as a pencil eraser—strutting down Rodeo Drive in other Barbie games, the shoulders-up Barbies in Hair Styler are diverse. They are all terrifying, with 1997 graphics making their eyes particularly dull and their permanent smiles look like muscle spasms, but I like the range of skin tones and facial features Hair Styler allows kids to destroy with ugly, moth-y lipstick.

Release year: 1984

Platform: Commodore 64

How dumb it is: The first-ever Barbie game, despite being a landmark event for game companies starting to view women and girls as serious consumers, lacks imagination. I admire the saltwater taffy colors of its pixel art, but, despite being named Barbie (and the Barbie movie is guilty of this, too), the game lets Ken run the show. He calls her to go on a date, and she rides her convertible around in search of new hair and clothes. Even Run Magazine, in its August 1985 issue, noted the sexism of it all, with writer Marilyn Annucci asking, “Why can’t Barbie call Ken? Why can’t Barbie say no? Why does Barbie have nothing to do but shop?” It’s a cute dress-up game with cute options, but I reject its boyfriend-first values.

Release year: 2000

Platform: PC

How dumb it is: I want to pause to appreciate the lyricism of the title. Barbie Generation Girl: Gotta Groove. Barbie, who is a Generation Girl, has Gotta Groove. What does it really mean, more deeply than a reference to the youth fashion-focused 1998 Generation Girl Barbie line? I don’t know. Gotta Groove? Yes.


Players can choose six Generation Girl dolls with different music and outfit preferences to choreograph a dance recital for. After customizing the Barbies’ routine, players can drag-and-drop decorations, like a bursting bubbles animation or a star-shaped stage, to an infinitely tall recital space that looks like it’s situated at the end of the world. Barbies then perform their assigned choreography in that space while an unseen crowd cheers, overall forming an entertaining out-of-body experience.

Release year: 2023

Platform: iOS, Android

How dumb it is: The most recent Barbie game, Barbie Color Creations, is a digital and interactive coloring book. It is definitely for babies, but the designs are thoughtful enough—players can decide to take the stereotypical Barbie game route and color in a party dress, or they can channel Glee and paint a conventionally attractive Barbie in a wheelchair. It’s corny, but it could also be a sign of better things to come.


What’s your favorite Barbie game? What Barbie game do you wish existed? I’ll be crossing my fingers for Barbie Tekken.


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