#IDARB is a hard game to describe to anyone who hasn’t played it. With a retro pixelated look, a strange mixture of various sports, a thumping soundtrack and the possibility of spectators being able to change the terms of the match using Twitter and Twitch, it really was unlike anything else that I had played before.
The game title stands for “It Draws A Red Box”, which is one of the many useless bits of information that currently clog up my brain, while I’m sure some other vital piece of data has been cast aside in order for me to remember that. It began life as a crowdsourced project, and with thousands of suggestions as to what people would like to see in the game, it morphed into what it is today. Developers Other Ocean seemed to shoehorn in pretty much everything in the world, with some sportsball contests, half time competitions – including a Duck Hunt homage – and audience participation using secret commands to tweak how the game plays. It really is chaos in there.
It’s always a source of fascination to me how the human brain works. It very much interests me the way in which certain songs or pieces of music, even smells, can evoke a memory in a person and transport them right back in time to a period in their life that is associated with that particular stimuli. For me, certain games can bring back these memories, and so it is with #IDARB. You see, way back in 2015, I was a fresh faced younger writer, just starting out on the path that would ultimately lead me to my dream job. Back in those days, I was writing for a now sadly defunct site, under the stewardship of an editor called Ken. Now Ken had picked me out of the people on the forum, requesting my use as a community liason, organising game nights so the staff could have a head-to-head with their punters and so on. One thing lead to another, and I soon progressed from writing news articles to doing full-on game reviews. It’s a huge privilege to do what we do, playing games and then saying what we think about them, and I’m very grateful both to Ken for the start, and for Neil, our esteemed editor here at TheXboxHub who took a punt on a bloke just rocking up and saying “I can write fings, gis a job!”
Anyway, what this long and rambling intro has been leading up to are my memories of playing #IDARB back in the day. The reason it made such an impact is that once a year that sadly defunct site used to run a charity 24-hour stream in aid of Special Effect – an amazing charity that adapts controllers so that disabled children are able to take part and play video games. Their work is amazing, ranging from making devices that can track eye movements to control a game, up to things that seem relatively simple, like making a Wii controller lighter so that children with arm injuries can still lift them. So, back in 2015, Ken was giving away copies of games as he always did, as the developers were always very generous with codes to be given away during the stream. One of these games was #IDARB, and I was fortunate enough to win a code in a raffle that was on the stream. Once it was downloaded, I challenged Ken to an online match to be streamed out across the whole of the interwebs.
Now, as the team here will testify, I am not one of life’s better virtual sportsmen. I’ve played Rocket League and to say that I was buried would be the understatement of the century. At the time, back in 2015, my thinking was that as #IDARB isn’t really based on any one sport, but is instead a weird kind of basketball/football/rugby hybrid, I quite fancied my chances. So, I jumped online, joined the group and then in front of hundreds of people watching the stream… was humiliated once again. I was okay at getting the ball, I was okay at jumping about the arena, and I was okay at shooting at the goal. But stringing all those things together? Not a prayer. I think the closest the scoreline came to being in my favour was when I parked my guy in my goal mouth, and Ken was only able to slot a couple of shots past me.
Of course, I wasn’t going to let this lie, and with the stream set to continue for many hours yet, I set about practicing furiously at home. Thanks to the single player “story” mode, I was able to get a little bit of capability, a little touch of skill. And then when my confidence was peaking, I again challenged Ken, and this time the story was very, very much the same. I lost again. Still, at least the internet wasn’t watching on Twitch, right? I left the match a humbled, chastened man, and set about just trying to get better. I used the built-in game squad designer to make a fetching strip for my team, I played and beat some peculiar teams, ranging from The Mustache Cops to a team called Breakfast, which seemed to consist of bacon and sausages, as you do. Along the way, I managed to unlock every achievement in the game, something that is quite rare, and to this day it’s still one of my favourite 100% completed games.
But hey, these then are my memories of #IDARB, and sorry for taking you all on a virtual trip down my memory lane. Assuming you’re still reading, I’d like to thank you for your indulgence as I had the chance to look back to a pivotal time in my games journalism career. So how about you guys? Did you play it when it came out? Maybe you still do, and have top tips for beating ex-editors of ex-Xbox ex-websites. Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed #IDARB, or even if you didn’t. We’d just love you to interact with us really.
If you haven’t previously given #IDARB a shot and wish to do so, you’ll find it available from the Xbox Store right now for £11.99.