One of the best things social media's given us since George Takei.
Ah, the Internet.What started as a cluster of Department of Defense computers now holds all the collected knowledge of the human race. The Internet has the power to bring wealth, prosperity, entertainment, education, and love to every inch of the known universe. Primarily, however, we use it for GameRevolution, cat pictures, and porn.
One day, a developer by the name of Mike Mika, who was part of a studio called Other Ocean Interactive, had a crazy idea about this Internet thing. He drew a red box. Then, he took to social media and told the Internet, “I drew a red box. What should I do with it?” The denizens of the Internet told him what to do with said red box, for if there's one thing the Internet likes better than cat pictures and porn, it's loudly shouting unfounded opinions.
Thus, Other Ocean Interactive and the Internet got together and created #IDARB, in which can most aptly be described as an Atari 2400 sports title on speed.
#IDARB, titled after the hashtag used to tag game-related posts during the indie game's development, took the ideas for features the Internet threw at it, and implemented them one by one. Remember that FBI image that used to be on all the classic arcade games? It's one of the first things you see when launching #IDARB, along with a warning that the game is only intended for use on Earth only, a “made in Oakland” image proudly displayed, and a quick instructions screen on button configuration and the note to “avoid missing goal for high score.” And this is all before the thumpin' electro soundtrack and title screen start.
At its core, #IDARB is a sports game, resembling a cross between basketball and soccer. The aim is simple: grab the ball, shoot it in the goal, score points. The team with the most points after a set number of rounds wins. Sounds easy, right? Sure it does. Now imagine doing this on a field that looks less like soccer or basketball and more like an unused design from the original Mario Bros. That's right, #IDARB shamelessly throws in platforming in their sports game, and any missed shot or pass could turn the game into an imitation of a Donkey Kong Jr. speedrun at any given moment.
Players can attempt to steal the ball from those who possess it; in true Internet fashion, this is accomplished via small, loud, flashy explosions. Players can even “shake” themselves up using the right stick and release “fizz,” sending players spiraling around the court causing distraction and mayhem. Goals range from two to five points, depending on where the shot comes from, and can be multiplied for bounces and successful alley-oops.
Matches can be played one-on-one up to four-on-four, but there's always one extra entity on the court: the Internet. Here's where it really gets interesting. Every game can be influenced by people watching on Twitch or following the stream on Twitter using a unique match hashtag. You could be hustling to the goal when all of a sudden, someone launches a #bomb, blowing up the platform you're standing on. Or perhaps they'll close off the goals for a few seconds, or send crazy clowns into your match to wreak havoc. Basically, the game encourages players to troll their friends' games, which essentially personifies what the Internet is all about anyway.
There's a short single-player set of matches (which includes some of the most clever writing I've seen in an indie since Shovel Knight) which are fun to play, but #IDARB shines once other people get involved. Playing online intensifies the fun, but local multiplayer blows everything out of the water. The frantic pace leads itself to raucous laughter, screaming, smack talk, victory dances, and thrown couch cushions.
As the Internet can be a very social place, it's clear that #IDARB wants the game to be social as well. Not only does it allow and encourage interaction on Twitch and Twitter, it's also highly-customizable and highly-shareable as well. A character creator allows players to create their own characters, from the average to the wild, and it's fairly simple to use. I'm no Michelangelo here, but even I was able to put together a fairly decent pixelated version of Mario, and while it's no Venus De Milo, it serviced my character needs pretty okay, leading me to create a whole Mushroom Kingdom team. Slap together a logo and an optional song and you're ready to rumble. And if someone should see your characters and become envious of your madd art skillz, every created character has a QR code generated. Snap a clear picture of the character's QR code and scan it with your Kinect for Xbox One, and that character is now part of your world.
#IDARB pushes the competition in a fast frenzy, while being completely silly at the same time. By far one of my favorite features of the game is the announcer, who serves the function of announcing goals, interceptions, and turnovers. However, he didn't have a catch phrase, which is where the Internet stepped in again. The Internet excels at quoting taglines and catch phrases from entertainment; as such, every score hears the announcer shout “GOAAAAL!” and some quote from somewhere that's completely unrelated to the game at hand.
#IDARB had me questioning my own hearing when I thought the announcer shouted “GOAAAAL! We're going to need a bigger boat!” then cracking up when later he roared “GOAAAAL! She blinded me… with SCIENCE!” He also rewards goals with exclamations such as “I'll have what she's having,” “Stop calling me Shirley,” “A dingo ate my baby,” and “Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?” Oftentimes I'd be laughing so hard I'd forget where I was on the field on the next ball.
As a game, it's fairly simple, and playing by oneself could grow dull quickly. It's really when people play together, either locally or online, that #IDARB takes off. And as the game is set to launch as a free title with Xbox Games With Gold in February, hopefully there will be plenty of players looking for a little pixelated madness to match up with.
Also, there's a recipe for Black Bean and Corn Dip, because random Internet reasons. #ItsActuallyReallyGood #IDARB
Available for Xbox One. PC version coming soon. Code provided by developer.