The Love Boat (Gamehouse)
After thirty years, the Love Boat makes another run on Gamehouse. This time, they’re passengers are Emily from Delicious and Angela from Fabulous. Can they keep them happy while dealing with their own drama?
For those of you not familiar with 1970s America, The Love Boat is about the Pacific Princess and the tales of romance and comedy among the passengers and crew. When I discovered that this would be one of Gamehouse’s projects, I searched for episodes of The Love Boat on YouTube. Seriously, the things I do for you people. Okay, I’ll admit that the show isn’t that awful, even though I wouldn’t consider it a masterpiece. In fact, when it first aired, critics claimed that this show would sink faster than the Titanic. Considering that the show lasted for ten years before they pulled it off the air, this is clearly not true. As I saw a few episodes of the series, I thought the critics were a little harsh. Yes, this show is not deep and it never won an Emmy, but the appeal was more in the fantasy. It’s the idea of boarding a cruise, watching marine life and finding love. The show also had an original idea by being more about the guest stars while the main characters often took a backseat to them. Many of these guest stars were famous 70s actors, so I liked to play my own game called spot the 70s star. In the episodes I’ve watched, I’ve found John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, three Bradies, George Jefferson and Chachi.
Let me tell you, the storyline of the game is the same one of the very first episode with a few plot changes and an added Emily and Angela storyline. I give you a spoiler warning, so don’t read if you want to go into the game fresh. Captain Stubbing has to deal with his b*tch of an ex-wife, Jenny’s running from her boyfriend who won’t commit, and Sandy’s engaged to a politician trying to hide her past as a model for a pornography magazine from him. Emily and Angela’s plot about sister bonding is the only new thing in the game. Therefore, they’re not continuing the plot from the original series; they’re remaking it in video game form.
Unfortunately, some aspects of the remake fall short. Since Emily and Angela are passengers on the ship, you would think that they updated the time to modern day. However, the writers failed to realize that there are things you can get away with in the 70s that you can’t get away with today. For instance, in the Jenny plotline, she boards the boat to get away from Ronald, her ex-boyfriend. He stows away on the boat and stalks her all through the cruise. It’s something Jenny finds flattering until he tells her that he doesn’t want to get married and wants to continue living together. Nowadays, if your boyfriend kept stalking you, you wouldn’t want to file for a marriage license. You’d file for a restraining order. Not to mention that it seems impractical to go this far in the age of the smart phone. Ron could just text Jenny repeatedly until she blocks him.
Speaking of impractical, I’m sure those of you who watched the show remember Sandy’s plot about hiding her past as a porn star from her fiancé, Congressman Brad Brockway. First, I should tell you that Sandy posed for the nude magazine, Kitten, when she was a law school student. She really needed the money, so she got a phony name and wore a brown wig hoping no one would recognize her. Kitten re-released it after finding out about Sandy’s engagement to a well-known politician and she’s working extra hard trying to hide the magazines from him. In the 70s, a feat such as this would be difficult since he would eventually discover this on his own. Today, it would be almost impossible. Not only would Sandy have to deal with someone recognizing her on the magazine, there is a good chance that this would be all over the internet. Anyone who sees this picture could blog about this scandal, tweet it, or post it on Facebook or Instagram. You can’t keep anything a secret in the digital age, especially when you’re in the public eye. Unless Sandy is a skilled hacker, she’s definitely fighting a losing battle. There’s also an inconsistency with this as, when Sandy asks Julie, the cruise director, about who purchased the last Kitten magazines, she jokes that everyone who purchased it is a man. The laugh track runs as if it were obvious, even though people accept homosexuality much better today than they did in the 70s. In addition, the game play and a later plot element contradict this stupid joke, which I’ll talk about later.
In the Stacey plot, you get more impracticality as she coerces her husband, Aubrey Skogstad, to buy the cruise line so that she can make life miserable for Stubing the same way he made her life miserable when they were married. Now, she could just leave a bad review on Yelp and blog all about how much the cruise sucks. Not that Stacey would be in the right for that, but her revenge plan is impractical. This plot also features a cross-dressing joke in the form of a disguised Gopher, the yeomen purser, trying to help Stubing win favor with Aubrey. Cross-dressing jokes might have been funny in the 70s but, right now, they’re just tasteless and desperate. This makes me wonder if Gamehouse posted A Normal Lost Phone as an apology. In addition, the ship’s doctor is still the same womanizer from the show with four ex-wives and hints at being unfaithful treated more along the lines of “boys will be boys.” This same manner is what makes people despise The Big Bang Theory.
Despite the unintentional values dissonance, the game does improve on the storylines from the first episode. For starters, Ron and Jenny actually get character development as a talk from Isaac, the bartender, makes them reconsider their views. It still ends the same way it did on the show, but at least the story gives a reason for their radical changes in behavior. Sandy also ends up coming clean to Brock about her past after Doc gives her some advice. However, Brock comes across the magazine and thinks that Sandy’s secretly into women. Understandably, he’s p*ssed and, if I were in love with a man who I thought was using me as a beard, I’d be angry myself. However, I do wonder how he couldn’t recognize his fiancé in a brown wig. This is also the plot point I made a reference to that contradicted their stupid joke about all of the buyers obviously being men. Don’t worry, they make up at the end with Brock being just as understanding about the picture in the game as he was in the show. The game also uses the method of showing and telling in regards to Stacey’s behavior. In the original episode, we don’t really see Stacey making the crew’s life miserable with the exception of the captain. We just hear the crew complain about her while she argues with the captain and forbids him to eat at his table. It is a d*ck move, because she’s also screwing over the other passengers invited to sit at Stubing’s table who I’m sure wanted to meet him. However, we never see Stacey interact with the rest of the crew yet they still complain about how she makes their lives miserable. In this game, we have genuine evidence of Stacey doing this with her demanding Julie to serve an impossible breakfast and getting angry when Julie pours her apple juice rather than orange juice. Stacey also demands the impossible from Isaac and deliberately sabotages Doc’s medicine. Another difference is that, in the show, Stubing tells Doc right away that Stacey is his ex-wife and talking about how he was so devoted to his job that he neglected her. Then Doc spills it to the rest of the crew the first chance he gets. Instead, Doc finds this out on his own when Stacey drops a green emerald necklace on the floor and recognizes it as the same necklace Stubing’s ex-wife wore in the picture on his desk. Stubing comes clean, admitting that he wasn’t a great husband but still saying that it’s no excuse for Stacey’s behavior, which I appreciate. Doc tries to keep this to himself until he feels that he has to tell the rest of the crew so that they don’t hate Stubing. This plot line ends in the show with Stubing grabbing Stacey by the arm and dragging her off in private to stand up for himself and his crew. While the game got rid of the first part, knowing modern day audiences wouldn’t handle that well, they still kept Stubing ordering Stacey to go to her room as if she were a spoiled child and Aubrey agreeing with him.
Earlier, I mentioned that Emily and Angela get their own plot line. Emily’s mother bought them tickets as a gift and they decided that it was the perfect opportunity for sibling bonding. Their story does have some similarities with Jenny and Lorraine’s as Angela teaches Emily how to have fun. The difference is that Lorraine just laughs it off and acts supportive of Jenny and her problems with Ron. Angela, on the other hand, acts like a spoiled child when Emily gets more attention from men than she does. Instead of talking to Emily about how this upsets her, she goes out of her way to sabotage Emily. At one point, she insincerely flirts with Gopher to prove to make Emily jealous. Then gains an unwanted admirer in him as Gopher constantly bothers Angela with a poem he wrote for her and how he wants to turn it into a song. If this is how Gopher acts around women, I’m starting to see why he has trouble getting a date. According to the actor, Gopher’s supposed to be the nice guy who always finishes last. Contrary to popular belief, this behavior is more clingy and creepy than it is nice. However, it doesn’t excuse how Angela leads him on later in the game. Let me explain that Angela meets a man she’s into who’s a yacht club member. She wants pursue him without Emily getting in the way, so Angela flirts with Gopher to convince him to sabotage the cooking show Emily wants to go to in the morning. Gopher manages to get the show postponed to the evening in exchange for a date with Angela. This is the exact same behavior Angela criticized Janet for in Angela’s High School Reunion. She never apologizes to Gopher for it, but she does apologize to Emily for taking the cruise too seriously. Their plot also has a laugh out loud moment when Emily takes care of Angela’s admirers by lying about how she’s pregnant with triplets. Then, when Gopher once again tries his luck, Emily gets rid of him by saying that Paige, Emilia and Vito are Angela’s kids and Patrick is Angela’s ex-husband who the warden just released from prison. I should tell you that Emily and Angela have very few moments of interaction with the crew of the Pacific Princess. Another instance is Emily checking in with Julie and explaining that Emily’s mother bought tickets for her and Angela. Emily also talks to Isaac briefly when she’s about to work at the restaurant only for Isaac to come in and tell her there’s not enough room on this ship for two bartenders. It’s the first time Emily’s had to go somewhere in the Delicious series and not have to serve people. All four plot lines weave together when Stubing marries Brock and Sandy with Emily making the cake and Angela sewing the wedding dress.
The game play has similarities with Emily’s Honeymoon Cruise. You go to different locations and play a member of the crew. As Julie, you check the customers in and serve them champagne or magazines while Gopher cleans up and handles their luggage.
One of the magazines is Kitten and women do order it during Julie’s levels. As Isaac, you serve customers food and drink while Gopher cleans up after them.
As Doc, you heal the passengers on the cruise.
You can buy upgrades in-between levels and complete optional side quests to earn diamonds, which you also get by playing the challenge levels. You also get to hear the theme song repeatedly when you’re at the map.
You have the option of changing the music, but don’t bother. That song is what TV Tropes would call an earworm, you hear it once and it will never leave your head. This game also has the catch the mouse mini-game you can participate in once a level. You can also use the diamonds to dress this mouse up in cute little outfits. The game also gives you profiles on the characters in the game, including the passengers and the hunky plot device who serves no purpose other than to give Angela another false romantic lead. You also earn achievements by completing certain tasks in the game that take the form of Polaroid pictures. This begs the question of why the Pacific Princess would be using a Polaroid to take pictures instead of a modern day digital camera. One level has the optional task of taking pictures with a Polaroid instead of people asking you to snap a picture of them with their smart phones.
The pictures also don’t give you much of a hint of how close you are to earning the achievements. You even have to collect one achievement by playing the same level repeatedly.
This game is addictive and nostalgic. I give it 7 out of 10; a bit behind the times but still a fun ride.