What would you do with a red box?

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 2nd, 2015


​If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play a game made from the distilled spirits of lacrosse, Jumpman, Smash Bros., and hyperactivity, then you really need to check out #IDARB. Co-developed by Other Ocean and people of the internet (yes, you read that correctly), this crazy-competitive retro 2D multi-player jetpack-jumping sports game plays very much like an arcade brawler: sure, you can button-mash and hope for the best, but the truly good players can actually make a method from the madness and kick major butt. It’s a game that everyone can get into (the more the merrier), it plays well at parties, and there are enough things to do outside of the main game that there is value even if you are on your own. Plus, the game is always growing thanks to Other Ocean’s crowd-sourced…er…sourcing.

‎The object of #IDARB is the same as that of many sports: get the ball in the opponent’s net. Of course, with multiple platforms strewn about the level and a the ability to “smack” others to knock the ball from their grasp, the task of scoring is not quite as simple. Some platforms are solid, deflecting the ball upon impact, while others are semi-solid, allowing you and the ball to move through them, but holding your character if you don’t actively counter their support by ground-pounding (down + jump). These platforms are a pivotal part of play strategy, as they not only function as a means to traverse the playing area, but they can also be used to confound members of the opposing team.

Pick from existing teams, or create your own – if you dare!

Controls are straightforward (and very responsive), with the basics being quick to pick up: left stick to move, B To jump (and double jump), ‎A to pass, X/RT/LT to “bump” (if you don’t have the ball) or shoot (if you’re holding the ball). What makes the basic controls challenging is the fact that the left stick both moves your character and aims the ball, so you have to be mindful of where you are and where you’d like the ball to go to. More advanced techniques involve “fizzing”, which is done by wiggling the right stick back and forth rapidly to build up a charge, and then hitting X when you’re ready, causing your character to unleash hell as if they were a bottle of soda, flying about the screen and destroying the solid platforms and goal boxes (which all rebuild themselves after a few seconds).

Points are awarded based on distance, with multipliers that are essentially based on shenanigans – so cramming as many points as possible in the limited amount of time that you have (four very short quarters) is the order of the day. Tossing the ball in while being close to the opposing team’s goal (or walking it in) results in 2 points. Throwing the ball in from closer to the center of the screen will net you 5 points. Bouncing the ball before you get it into the goal gives you a 2x multiplier, and passing the ball to a team-mate in mid-flight before throwing it in also gives your team a multiplier to apply to the points scored. There are so many ways to advance your score that any game is anyone’s game at any given time. Even passes can become goals when handled the right way; passing lines appear when you push A, indicating where the pass will be going the moment you release the button – but your team-mate might not be travelling in the right direction and your pass may sail right over them and bounce into the net anyway for a 3-point goal.

Looks like Bacon is about to win again – just like in real life!

And so it becomes a game of inches and milliseconds, in which precision (again, remember that left stick for moving and aiming gimmick) is constantly being bombarded by pressure – and where quick-reflexes and effective communication (couch multi-player) take precedence. While button-mashing certainly does help, it has an equal chance of getting you further from the goal as it does getting you closer to it. The team who gels the most with each other will usually take the prize. The most amazing thing about #IDARB, though, is that it keeps moving while it keeps you on your toes. Whether a spectacular goal is scored purely by chance, or a team pulls of a nearly-impossible play to rack up the points (like one player fizzing, taking out the platforms while the rest of his team have a long-distance clear shot at the goal), by the time you stop to think about what just happened the ball is in play and you have to figure out what the hell you’re going to do this time around – until half-time, when #IDARB presents you with hilarious throwbacks to old arcade games to change the pace for a minute or so.

#IDARB is best played with a group of people; however, there are a number of different modes for different situations. If you find yourself alone, you can play the single player campaign, which pits you against increasingly difficult teams. You start off in a one-on-one game and end up playing multi-player AI teams (thankfully, you also gain some team-mates along the way). While play is not as crazy as it is with real people, the single-player mode allows you to keep practicing, as your team-mates are actually not too shabby. There is also online multi-player – but I only ever got this to work once (I was on my own and apparently many people don’t want to play 1 vs 1), and when it did work, it suffered from such a horrible lag that I went back to the single-player mode. Even playing in groups can threaten friendships if there are an odd number of people. Unless the more skilled players are cool with being the underdogs, you’re not really going to have a stress-free play session.

Create your own character…

On top of all of this there are a ton of customization options. When you first play, you’ll notice that there are a massive number of different teams to chose from (and each team has various characters). For instance, you can play as Intellivision characters; or maybe you’d rather play as arcade cabinets, or characters from Super Time Force? Should you not find a team to your liking, you can create your own thanks to the neat sprite editor! You can also create your own music using #IDARB’s simple composition tool, giving your own characters their own theme music. Neither the sprite editor nor the music creator are very complicated – but given the 8-bit aesthetics of the game, you don’t really need to get too fancy.

#IDARB is one of those games that is the perfect choice for a group of people. It has a lot going for it: frenzied game-play, easy-to-understand controls, simple graphics, a kick-ass soundtrack, and tons of customization options (there are even some hilarious Easter eggs and achievements). However, this game might not be for every occasion. Things are a bit less exciting when there are only a few people, and if you’re looking to really push your boundaries and have a great time, #IDARB might not do it for you after playing single-player for a while. Of course, in that case, just have yourself a little gaming party and have at ‘er – and you’ll be yelling, screaming and swearing again in no time – but you’ll have a big smile on your face when you do.

…and give them their own music!

#IDARB is an Xbox One exclusive and will be available soon! If you feel like contributing an idea to #IDARB (and contribute to the downfall of this review), check out their homepage.

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