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#IDARB - Review
#IDARB, (a.k.a. "It Draw A Red Box) is perhaps better known for how it was developed than for what it's actually about. Beginning with a simple red box, hence the title, the developers posted their starting idea on Twitter. Afterwards, comments started flowing in about what the game should be about, and thus, the end result was born.
Naturally, for a game that was at least partly designed by ideas thrown around on the internet, #IDARB has become a 8-player competitive sports game with a mix of basic platforming, a sort of blend of rudimentary Super Mario meets football and basketball, all played at a frenetic pace.
The goal in #IDARB is simple, stick the ball in the opposing goal. Characters have a simple arsenal of basic moves such as tackling the other players, forcing them to let go of the ball or pushing them back, passing to friendly players, or jumping around on the field's myriad platforms. It's through the rather simple mechanics that developers Other Ocean create a surprisingly addictive little game. Knocking the ball into the goal might seem relatively easy, but when you've got two, three, or even four opposing team members coming after you, rabidly hitting the tackle button, you have to start getting creative.
In fact, if there was a comparison to be had, it would actually come from last year's odd-looking Nidhoggr, another competitive indie game with a similar visual style, that used a minimalist set of mechanics, but offered multiple layers of strategy. Similarly, #IDARB rewards players that can successfully manoeuvre in order to intercept a tricky shot, or set up a series of passes to quickly get the ball over to the other side of the field.
Of course, that's just the first half of #IDARB, as its name suggests, the game has plenty of overlap with Twitter. Players can tweet wins as well as directly interact with games using the social media website. It's a quirky, weird way to craft an online game but definitely pays tribute to the source of inspiration that was partly responsible for creating it.
If anything Other Ocean are keen to emphasize the game's sports game look and feel. Matches are dotted with adverts for real game companies, which is either a great way of adding to the look and feel of the title, or a crafty way of sneaking in advertisement, depending on your point of view.
The internet influences also spread far and wide, score a goal and you'll usually cause the announcer to blurt out an internet meme, or quote a quote line of dialogue from a film. "Come with me if you want to live", might not make much sense in the context of what's happening onscreen, but this a game born on the internet, and the internet finds these references funny.
There's also the addition of a single player mode should the thoughts of duking it out online not appeal to you. To be fair, it makes for a decent attempt at a tutorial, slowly building the matches up from basic, one-on-one matches to the chaos of a massive four versus four game. It's a fun enough mode, even if the core game does get repetitive when you're forced to play with the cold, empty eyes of the A.I. Although, Other Ocean deserve credit for crafting some surprisingly effective artificial intelligence, not only do the later opponents actually play aggressively but your own team will pick up the slack too, passing smartly and generally being able to pull their weight.
As with the rest of the game, the single player campaign is filled with oddball humour. Quirky exchanges between the teams precede every match. An early game against some farm animals sees them attempt to get their revenge later after the pig is "upgraded" into bacon and has brought along a silent mug of coffee as its third player.
Makes no sense? Don't ask, it's #IDARB.
What's surprising is that bigger doesn't always mean better. Two-on-two and even three-on-three matches can make for some fun games but, in many cases, the prospect of a full eight player game is simply too chaotic. It's easy, in the scrum of these bigger games to lose sight of your pixel-dotted player and wonder what the hell is happening. This wouldn't be a problem necessarily were the game not touted, along with its Twitter and Twitch integration as being geared towards competitive gaming.
There's occasionally a pull between the game's two desires; on the one hand it offers a fun, messy, online free-for-all, yet, on the other hand it wants its small set of mechanics to make tight, tactical sense and offer some depth.
Perhaps, it's somewhere in the middle that #IDARB does the best. Not its online competitive environment, but as an excuse to call some friends around and have a laugh as you mock each other's pratfalls and failed attempts at scoring, or the shameful moments when you're tackled into your own goal whilst holding the ball. Think of it as a hipster version of Mario Party if you will.
#IDARB might be slim pickings on the whole, and not all of its gameplay lives up to what it clearly wants to achieve. Yet, as an online-multiplayer game Other Ocean does offer something fun, silly and in many cases somewhat original.
#IDARB was released February 1st exclusively for the Xbox One.
© 2015 LudoLogic