Review: #IDARB

#IDARB is an unique entity that was practically born within the fickle domain of social media. Developer Other Ocean took community involvement to a whole new level, by getting the entirety of the internet gaming community involved in the creation process of title. There was no predetermined concept plan, as it all started with a single Tweet depicting a pixelized red block… and the rest as they say, is history.

With the internet community being such a volatile platform inhabited by those with short attention spans and a tendency to antagonistically disagree with each other, it’s a wonder that #IDARB even made it to release day. #IDARB was built by the internet pixel by pixel, and the end product exhibits the kind of chaos and madness that you see on Twitter every other Tuesday. Yet, amidst all the chaos and madness that #IDARB splashes upon the player, there is a well defined foundation of an incredibly fun video game. Make no mistake, #IDARB is no fluke.

#IDARB is a sports video game at its core, harking back to the days when video games based on outdoor activities didn’t really aim for hyper realism and simulation, instead they used the base rules of the sport to provide a fun and addictive diversion that nearly everyone could enjoy, regardless of familiarity with the source material. #IDARB is basically futuristic sport that combines dodge-ball with the simple goal scoring sensibilities of soccer. Your primary main goal is to land the ball into the opposing team’s goal, a simple and clear objective that has layers of jarring mechanical hooks on top of it.

The great thing about #IDARB is that it is such a simple and engaging video game, one that virtually anyone can pick up and have a blast with. It allows up to 8 players to engage in some team-based clusters, and the simple controls allow you to jump around and shoot balls. As deceptively simple as #IDARB appears to be, there is a degree of skill involved when it comes to aiming your shots, tactfully passing the ball to your team-mate, and intercepting the ball with precision. Getting the ball into the goal quickly turns into an all-out brawl, with players going at it from all sides.

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The basic arena is molded like the static levels from the earliest platformers, and platforming is a huge part of the core gameplay, as you’ll be hopping from platform to platform to chase the ball and your opponents around. As static as the arena might seem in the first few instances, things quickly go from crazy to insane, as all sorts of intrusions constantly change the playing field, such as the size or the field of vision. It’s quite like the constantly morphing arenas found in the Smash Bros. series. Not to mention, during intermission between rounds, you get to have a little fun with all sorts of button mashing mini-games. The gameplay variety and fun factor simply never lets up.

#IDARB is a blast to play one on one, but adding more players amplifies the fun factor substantially. The online component generally works well, ensuring reasonably smooth battles. But this is a game that was simply intended for a classic couch session, as the company of good friends (they don’t even have to be gamers!) is needed for some laughs and good times. Heck, this is the kind of game you want to set up at a bar for a roaring good time. Speaking of which, #IDARB has a cool little extra mode that allows you to place bets on matches.

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As strictly multiplayer as #IDARB is, there is enough content in the package that will keep you busy even when friends are not around. For one thing there is a story mode that lasts about an hour or so, with writing that showcases an absolutely ridiculous and offbeat sense of humor (the ending simply must be seen). It also provides a good chance to practice the gameplay system and how to work well with teammates. There’s unlockable goodies too, mainly the huge selection of recipes… as in… actual recipes for you to try in the kitchen. Why? Hell if we know.

If there is one thing that has become increasingly evident in sports (especially wrestling) video games, it’s deep creation suits and #IDARB offers more than you’d know what to do with. Sprites can be constructed pixel by pixel with its character creator, and virtually anything can be created as only your imagination is the limit. Go online and plenty of recognizable sprite renditions can be seen created by the thriving #IDARB community. It doesn’t stop there, as team logos and banners can be designed, and even custom tunes can be composed. That’s right, #IDARB lets you compose your own chip-tunes in Rhythm Core-like fashion.

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The fact that #IDARB is an internet community effort isn’t the only fascinating tidbit, as the entirely of the experience is deeply embedded in social media. Twitter and Twitch are a constant presence, with feeds running while you’re too busy trying to make sense of the explosion of pixels and sprites during a match. Social media also interjects during gameplay, constantly bombing the arena with all sorts of level-morphing changes to make an already chaotic affair even more overwhelming.

From the moment it launched, #IDARB was thrown into the Xbox Live Games with Gold promotion, and so for the rest of the month you can download the title for free. That said, #IDARB is honestly one of those games that is worth its price of admission on any given day.

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Closing Comments:

#IDARB is a game that keeps on giving and the quintessential Xbox One multiplayer experience. Nintendo systems have Mario Kart and Mario Party, many moons ago the SEGA Saturn offered the ultimate multiplayer mayhem in Saturn Bomberman and now we have #IDARB for the Xbox One as one of the best and most inclusive multiplayer havens. #IDARB is quite possibly the first real example of a marriage between classic arcade gaming values and all the volatile antics of social media. It may have resulted in a seemingly incoherent fusion of ideas and pixels, but at its heart, #IDARB is a classic sports game that will click with just about anybody, and the extra helping of random chaos will never cease to entertain.