#IDARB Review (Xbox One)
As Teddy Roosevelt maneuvers past Snow White and scores another two points for the Dead Presidents against the Princesses, I smile in full appreciation of everything #IDARB is and wants to be, even if I don't truly understand what the hell is going on.
#IDARB, which stands for I Drew A Red Box, is just as much a game as it is a digital social media experiment. Developer Other Ocean asked Twitter what they wanted from a game, Twitter responded, and #IDARB was born. Given the volatile and unpredictable nature of the social media environment, this experiment could have blown up in Other Ocean's face. Instead, I get to enjoy one of the wackiest and fun games I've ever pressed start to play.
#IDARB puts two teams of up to four players against one another in an arena to see who can score the most points by throwing a ball into the other team's goal. It's a weird hybrid of basketball and soccer set in a world of sprites and buffed with crazy music and flashing lights. It's a perfect couch game for parties, or the perfect game for four friends to team up and have some mindless fun online during a boring day. Like the social media the developer mined for inspiration, #IDARB is the perfect time waster.
It's a goofy game for sure, but I was surprised how much strategy I tried to create while playing, taking different angles to the goal and shooting from varying distances to see how I could add more points to my shots. I've learned that a pressing defense can be devastating, using the steal button liberally can be a blessing and a curse, and that nothing good comes from the back of the net. I've also learned that I can force an opponent to replace me in the penalty box if he or she gets too close, and it's really satisfying every single time.
Since the creation of the game was placed entirely in the consumer's hands, naturally everything in the game is customizable, from creating new teams and characters to composing the background music during a match. Creating a character is a matter of filling in a rectangular grid with whatever colors I need to make my masterpiece, looking like a picross game more than a customization tool. Music creation reminds me a lot of the fantastic Mario Paint music maker, giving me a handful of sound effects and asking me to mix and match them into an aural arrangement. I can see plenty of time being spent in both of these modes without even playing a full game.
Of course I'm perfectly content with the giant roster of playable sprites included with the game if I don't like my creations, from the Spartans of Halo to the aforementioned Dead Presidents like Teddy and Abraham Lincoln. My favorite team though has to be Team Breakfast, made up of a fried egg, a piece of bacon, and more essential breakfast foods. This is just what Other Ocean decided to include, so imagine the insanity once the general public gets a hold of it.
Where #IDARB drifts away from "quick-play time waster" to "potentially revolutionary" is its use of Twitter within the game itself. "Hashbombs" can be used by a player at any time, altering the field of play via whatever a player or onlooker decides to tweet at @Idarbwire using the match's corresponding hashtag. Someone not even involved with the game could look at the TV, find the hashtag for the match, and seal off both teams' goals with one quick Tweet. Imagine if a game like Dragon Age implemented something like that, where I could tweet a DA-related Twitter account and get a weapon sent to my armory. I never thought that'd be possible, but this little game seems to have figured if out. Of course by using social media #IDARB has more potential for sheer insanity than any other game I've played in a long time, but it's still damn fun every step of the way. Oh, and it has the best credits sequence ever made.
#IDARB is the game social media built, but what's fascinating is how the game mirrors the entity that has created it. Think about a daily Twitter experience: I know I'm logging on to read some messages from people, but I'm never truly aware of what's coming until I start reading. People I follow could be in an uproar about something and that topic covers my feed, or it could be a slow, leisurely stroll through the minds of a handful of humans. #IDARB starts as a leisurely game of basketball/soccer/whatever you want to call it and it could very well stay that way, or it could become a fountain of chaos with random elements thrown in from all sides. I think I'm playing a sports game, but I could soon find myself under a mountain of Maker knows what.
The crowds were sourced, and Other Ocean comes out looking like a house of geniuses with their kooky little sports game called #IDARB. To think, this all started with a picture of a red box.
This review is based on a downloaded copy of #IDARB on Xbox One obtained through Xbox One Games with Gold.