When you start off with a red box and ask the community to shape and mould the game ahead of you, just about anything could happen. And that sums #IDARB up perfectly.
Anything could happen!
For in #IDARB, you have absolutely no idea what could occur next, and that is all down to the unique way the world can get involved in every single game that takes place.
At its most basic, the game crosses the most simple of 90’s basketball titles with one of the biggest titles of 2014, Super Smash Bros, all touched with the platform brush. Two teams battle it out in a quest to score the most points, in a fast-paced match that is split into four quarters. Acquiring the ball is as easy as running over and picking it up, but obviously if the other team already have hands on it then you’ll need to fight for it. This is done by firing out a blast that interferes with anything near by. Dislodging the ball from the other team then gives you the chance to go for a run on goal and whilst the stick can be used to aim any shot, for the most part you’ll find players happy enough to take the less points on offer for a closer shot then risk the three, five, or fifteen pointers gained by those who score with skill. Obviously, as is normally the case, the team with the most points when the buzzer goes for the final time is declared the winner. After which, you start again and power on through another match.
All players can use purple platforms to drop through and jump over in order to get to the ball quicker but any white slates you may see in the match are unpenetrable. Frenetic jumping is the order of the day but goal hanging and downright unsporting behaviour are both punished severely, with any player who attempts to ruin the flow of the game being banished to the sin bin for a period of time, leaving their team mates to have to work extra hard whilst being a man down.
For those who don’t get thrown in the bin, a quick waggle of the right stick gives the chance to charge your man, seemingly making him more powerful and slightly quicker. I’ve played many hours of #IDARB both in the local form and with the online matchups and very rarely have had any need to charge my player too much. Score a few points in a row and you’ll automatically be given a hot streak and being ‘on fire’ makes you significantly less likely to miss those super sexy long-range baskets.
Teams consist of anything from one to four players and whilst the vast majority of gamers will take in plenty of one-on-one action, if you manage to find a number of real world or online friends, get them together in a hurry because #IDARB is absolutely nuts when more people are involved.
There is however a bit of a twist. Each and every match that takes place comes with a code that can see the match ‘hacked’ by anyone with access to the internet. Via the medium of Twitter or Twitch, outsiders can throw hashbombs into the action. There are many tags available and all bring game changing actions to the table. These range from the most basic ‘#light’ which turns the lights off, to the crazy ‘#clown’ which sees the match descend into a circus farce. #ricky rolling is always good for a laugh but once you’ve seen it in action once, you’ve seen it in action a million times. Each bomb that is thrown in to the arena by the viewing public takes place for 30 seconds or so and the anticipation for the next bomb ensures all players that are competing are on edge waiting for the next hit.
In effect then, whilst each match of #IDARB is only officially open to eight players at one time, the inclusion of hundreds and possibly thousands of others via Twitter is a great one. Even if for some strange reason the whole internet goes down, the chance to include automated bombs in local player matches is a good call.
So, #IDARB is all good fun, at least for a little while.
Because unfortunately its simplicity is indeed its downfall.
Whilst each game is fast paced with a ball that pings around all over the shop, the fact that to date, there is only one match arena available, quickly sees those players who have experienced the most game time over-running any newbie completely. In fact, in order to score a point or two, very little skill is required with initial player starting formations always the same and so long as your aim is half decent and you’ve got both hands firmly planted on your controller, you’ll quickly find the same goals being scored over and over again.
For #IDARB to really succeed, the addition of further arenas has to be implemented as whilst the hashbombs that come in left, right and centre can change the game up a little, for the most part they are just humourous additions that are quickly forgotten after a few seconds.
Additionally, if you can’t manage to drag real world friends round for a blast, the whole game hinges on the fact that you can find a decent online game with numerous players. With the game being given away in the Xbox Games With Gold program for February 2015, we should initially see a huge number of players available for action but I’m slightly concerned at what could happen further down the line when players flock to the ‘next big thing’. Other than the occasional alcohol fueled party, #IDARB could well be left on the shelf with little action.
Half time ‘events’ are a nice addition and bring something slightly different to the game with old school tug of war and 100 metre sprints bringing us a bit of fun, but again they are shortlived, easily forgotten affairs. Whilst they don’t in any way affect the going ons in the matches, as was the case back in the day, compete too hard in these and win the bragging rights, and you can expect to be in the market for a new controller pretty sharpish.
However, nice additions in the menu system are the options to create new teams, new songs and new logos but unless you’re one of those who like to spend hours at a time designing visuals, then the numerous default teams that are included from the outset will be enough. All done with a charming 8-bit style, if you fancy creating a team of ‘rabbits’ to run around scoring points then you may do so, but time and effort is something Xbox One gamers don’t necessarily want to invest in.
#IDARB then is great fun, but only if you can manage to find enough players to make it so. Even then it’s not something you’ll be spending hours at a time playing.
Pitting your wits against AI players in single player is indeed decent fun, and yes, it teaches you how to play as a team which is great for when you take things online. However, I can’t help but feel the whole game is geared more towards both the online and offline multiplayer that is present (a fact empathised greatly by me nearly omitting it in this review!). It’s good to see a huge chunk of humour thrown into what is a bit of a madcap ‘storyline’ (I’ll leave it to you to spot the superb team names), but will it keep you interested for hours on end? Unfortunately not.
For free, the initial period is going to be great. But after that the little red box may just need to evolve some more.