One thing that is clear to anyone who fires up #IDARB is that it is a game unlike any other. The premise is actually quite simple: there are two goals and a ball. Get the ball in the goal and you score points. It’s everything else surrounding this idea that makes #IDARB such a special game that needs to be experienced.
The creation of #IDARB is almost as amazing as the actual end product and deserves brief mention here. #IDARB was literally designed over social media. It started with Mike Mika posting an idea for a game with a simple red box and a bunch of platforms. After time and a bunch of suggestions, the game started to evolve. Changes came and changes went. Sometimes it was a platformer. Sometimes it was a shooter. It went through a bunch of variations until it eventually landed on the basketball-esque game it is today.
That is nowhere near the end of the community/crowd source focus that #IDARB has. The simple sprites that make up each of the teams are pulled directly from various games and developers in the industry including Halo, Double Fine and Retro City Rampage. Outside of video game teams are completely random teams like Mustache Cops or the aptly named Breakfast, who’s team members consist of literal bacon, coffee, etc. They have also included community interaction for broadcasts of the game, letting you tweet at the match to actually affect the game as it goes on, such as turning the ball into a bomb or submerging the entire arena in water.
If I were to describe #IDARB in one word, it would be insane. Picture this: up to eight players all chasing after a single ball, constantly attacking, passing and shooting in the hope that eventually the ball will go into the goal. The action is hectic and rarely lets up. There are also many ways to score, with multipliers and bonus points being awarded for stylish shots like alley oops, bounce scores or long shots. Most regular scores earn two points but the mega point totals add a lot of tension no matter what the score is. I’ve seen shots that have ended up adding over 20 points once all of the various bonuses added up.
#IDARB is clearly a game intended to be played on the couch or online with a group of friends and that is where the game will shine the brightest. However, there is a single player mode that lasts for a couple of hours. It does a great job emulating the feel of the game with a full group of friends. It even puts in the wacky modifiers so that you can experience just how insane #IDARB truly gets.
Aesthetically there is a surprising amount of stuff going on in #IDARB. The graphics are simple but the game is incredibly fluid and the ball physics and animations feel great. True to many eSports, there is only one arena but the background changes from match to match. One of the more entertaining aspects is the announcer, who shouts random lines of dialogue throughout the match, most notably by screaming a seemingly random movie quote after every score such as “it’s the frickin’ Catalina Wine Mixer!” or “I’ll have what she’s having!” It’s hilarious and fits the style of the game perfectly.
Another aspect that fits perfectly with the simple style of the game is how infinitely customizable the game is. You can can go into the editor and make your own characters and teams to use in the game, craft a team logo and even compose a team song if you so desire. I was able to easily go in and create a “Nintendo” team consisting of Mario, Peach, Link, etc. and had a ton of fun doing so. My only complaint is that the sprite are rather small – 8 x 16 – which will lead to some difficulty creating characters. But if you have no artistic ability you can simply use the Kinect to scan QR codes of other people’s creations right into the game, an awesome addition.
As a game that basically came to be because of an social experiment, it’s amazing how good the final product of #IDARB turned out to be. Better yet it is available completely free on Xbox One for Gold subscribers, meaning there is literally no reason you should not go download it immediately and check it out. Even if all you do is play through the short story mode, you’re sure to have a great time.
SCORE: 9.0 out of 10
A review copy of #IDARB was provided to Pixel Related for review.