I’m not sure if I’ve ever flaunted my fashion before (someone spotted I was wearing Pokemon socks this week – does that count?). It might not make us the obvious candidate to review Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion, but we’re here, ready to be stylish and stick it in people’s faces.
We’ll be honest: we didn’t know Bratz was still an ongoing thing. We remember being subjected to the live action Bratz movie in 2007 – Rotten Tomatoes score of 10%, if you are interested – and we thought it died then, so the whole process has been an education to us.
The formula hasn’t been updated much. Bratz has you controlling the massive-headed ladies of fashion, their body mass about fifty percent eyes and lips. You play as your choice of Yasmine, Cloe, Jade or Sasha, and your job is at the Bratz fashion magazine, where all four of you are fashion reporters.
Now, Bratz abide by a very special kind of fashion reporting. Their speciality is to approach a potential topic and somehow make themselves the centre of it. If there’s a talent show, you can be sure that they will sign up and win it. Fashion show? Yep, they will model. Gig? They will push everyone aside and clamber onto the stage and belt out some hits. It must be fascinating to read the Bratz magazine, as most of the articles must be about them. It’s the equivalent of us turning up at Bethesda and demanding that we be the main character of their next Fallout.
Nobody seems to point this out to the Bratz who are, of course, universally loved. Everyone squee’s and does that leg-lifting-thing that is the universal language for ‘you are just so adorable’. And the Bratz love each other, too. Barely a sentence crosses the screen without a Bratz (is that the singular?) telling another Bratz that they are being the best version of themselves, kicking ass, and, well, you go girl.
Now, these are the cynical words of a middle-aged man, so take it with a pinch of salt. This is a fantasy world that younger girls may well lap up, but we couldn’t help but find it all fascinating and a little upside-down. We could print out several of the game’s lines of dialogue and construct self-help posters out of them. It’s all so affirmative.
If you’re wondering what kind of game Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion is, then we’re wondering that too. Because it’s less a game and more a series of conversations, with the odd spot of fetch questing to enliven it. Coming from Outright Games, the publisher who turned JoJo Siwa into a rhythm action game, and LOL dolls into an Overcooked! party game, it’s a surprising backward step. They found a functioning game from both of those brands, but in Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion they sort of, kind of, don’t bother. It’s a static world where you walk up to things and talk at them.
Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion is broken up into four different cities to explore, with five locations in each. So let’s take Seoul as an example. There is an art gallery here where a mystery fashion designer has left you some hints to his identity. So, you are finding parcels in the hallways which have a big flashing icon over them to ensure that you do in fact find them. Other quests tumble out. You are interviewing artists about their pieces in the gallery; you are changing your outfit in the Bratz apartment so that you can meet the expectations of someone who wants you to model for them; and you are finding locations that are shown in a photographer’s photos.
These are emblematic of the entirety of Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion: you’re given a push to find someone, an icon flashes to tell you that you’ve found them, and then you complete the quest. With a fast-travel to each location, and some reasonably small areas to explore, this is the most miniscule of chores. Sometimes, the fetch quests generate a story that deserves to be published, so you head back to your apartment to punch it into a laptop and receive cash, followers and style points (which gate you from exploring further cities and locations). On very rare occasions, they will unlock a minigame or challenge for you to do.
You might perk up and believe that gameplay is on the way, but these are flawed little diversions that grasp at being interesting but miss by a fingernail. There are rhythm action sections, but ‘rhythm’ is probably overstating it: you are pressing buttons in a pre-defined order, but they don’t match the music and are flung at you slowly enough that you won’t make a mistake. Scooter, hoverboard and rollerskate races have potential, but you’re not racing anyone, there’s no threat of failure, and the track nudges you in the right direction like you were a bowling ball on a bumpered alley.
The argument here is that Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion was made for children, so stop being an arsehole. But our kids found the extremely talky, text-heavy content, alongside the lack of anything really to do, a bore. The minigames were too rare and there were only a few categories of them. The incessant to-ing and fro-ing between locations got on their nerves, and they stuck Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx on instead.
The one spark for them was the dressing up, which – surprisingly for a game called Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion – wasn’t a substantial part of it. You can find Bratz-branded treasure chests throughout the locations, and they’re slightly more hidden than everything else. Finding these was the favourite pastime for our kids, and they could take the money and spend it on hairstyles, fashion and makeup. These are drip-fed slightly more than we would have liked, but once we had a full wardrobe for them to dip into, they loved it. Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion is pretty fully featured in this area.
And we’ll give some kudos to the music. It’s glossy and tacky, but it’s well made, and a few of the tracks had us dancing in the aisle. The song associated with the Talent Show area, for example, had us sitting our Bratz on a bench just so we could listen to it. We’ve put in a request for Carly Rae Jepsen to cover that particular track.
What Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion amounts to is a static playmat. Your kids can dress up their doll and wander about it, looking for treasure chests, and there’s some enjoyment to be found in that. But once you start engaging with the world around you, talking to interviewees for the Bratz magazine, you realise how flimsy everything is. There just isn’t much to do, and the few interactions are chat, chat, making yourselves the focus of the story, and then more chat.
You can buy Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion from the Xbox Store