Editor's note: We don't typically put reviews on the front page, but this isn't your typical review…. -Brett
As a single gamer, I welcome games that may teach me how to win over the fairer sex. So when MicroForum released Enjoy Your Massage! on WiiWare, I had to explore its potential. After all, what better way to invite romantic opportunity than through the fine art of sensual massage?
Unfortunately, the only massage I enjoyed in Enjoy Your Massage! was the one I gave my temples to ease the headache of wasting 500 Nintendo Points.
Enjoy Your Massage! is a misleading title to begin with. At no time are you yourself ever on the table. They should've called it Enjoy Giving Other People Massages!, but I guess that doesn't appeal to our self-gratifying culture.
The game has you working as an up-and-coming masseuse for Giselle, owner of a beauty farm. No, that isn't some strange mistranslation. “Beauty farms” exist; I looked it up. Why would women so self-conscious of their appearance as to spend extravagant amounts of money on high-end treatment go to a place called a “farm”? Beats me. That's probably why I'm still single: I ask too many damn questions.
There are six female clients to pamper, each introduced through anime still-frames. It reminds me a bit of Trauma Center, only if Derek Stiles was doing boob jobs on Rodeo Drive instead of saving lives (“Doctor! The patient is flat-chesting! Inject more saline now!”). Oddly, the camera zooms uncontrollably in on each client as they introduce themselves, as though your eyes are telescoping out of your head or you're slowly being pulled into their orbit. This is the crucial first step of masseuse-client relations: making each other feel equally uncomfortable.
This initial creepiness thankfully disappears as soon as you begin the game itself — except it's replaced by a wholly heightened and unprecedented form of creepiness once you realize your lone goal is to play Simon on the backs of women. Seriously. Each client's back is divided into a nine-square grid, as if they had fallen asleep on top of a very large, very hot Rubik's cube.
These squares will light up for you in a certain sequence — accompanied by a piano note — that you are asked to copy through pointing and clicking. Get it right and your client's satisfaction meter goes up one notch. Mess it up and it drops two. Empty the meter or run out of time and you lose. Fill the meter and you win. That's really all there is to it. There's not even a freeplay mode where you can try to plunk out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on your organic harpsichord.
The ESRB rates the game as having “mildly suggestive themes,” but they could say the same of Murder, She Wrote. All you ever see is bare backs, and even they have an offputting, plasticky sheen to them. The only action that takes place is your pair of stiff, disembodied hands giving little wuss-rubs to each square on a woman's back. In fact, the hands never even bend or move their fingers. You could basically recreate any of the scenes in this game by drawing on a Barbie's back with a red Sharpie and tapping on it with a lopped-off pair of Ken hands. If that sounds mildly suggestive to you, you might want to consider some professional help there, Dexter.
You're not going to find much suggestiveness anywhere else, either. You are rewarded, in typical fan-service fashion, with an image of each client, but nearly all are almost fully encased in clothing. Only the last client is wearing a bikini that doesn't leave everything to the imagination. It's not really a "sultry peek" as much as the equivalent of just stumbling across the clients during their daily routines and sharing an awkward, silent moment (this music cuts out at this point in the game): “Hi, it's me. You know, the set of disembodied hands that played random notes on your back? Yeah, that pair! So, uh… guess I'll see ya around!”
I suppose if you really felt the need, you could try to find something suggestive in the game's typo-laden and repetitive dialogue. “Maybe a massage will help me feeling better,” Ines says. Oh, Ines! That sounds almost mildly saucy if I imagine you with a cockney accent!
And if you're expecting a happy ending, just forget it: There's none to be had. Really, there is literally no ending to the game; it just dumps you back to the selection screen after the final client.
So if you came to Enjoy Your Massage! hoping to unlock your magic touch and apply it toward wooing a true love, I am afraid to say the realm of video games has disappointed you yet again. If, however, you came looking for an overly simple repetition game cased in a cheaply made and socially awkward shell, then you've found your soul mate!
(Oh, and for those curious enough, there is actually a racier-looking version of this game for mobile devices, but I think I'll just stick with flowers from now on, thank you.)