It’s the fourth quarter and the clock is ticking. My team of Mimes has just managed to take the lead thanks to a well-timed alley-oop, but Team Noir isn’t going to go down without a fight. As my silent pair attempt to snuff out one final drive from the opposition, a critical mistake is made, and I accidentally smack the ball over onto my side of the court.
As the two teams scramble to retrieve the ball, and with only seconds left on the clock, the Femme Fatale on Team Noir heaves up a desperate shot. In that moment, time seemed to stand still, as we all watched the ball shoot up towards the goal. Never have I felt as powerless as I did when I watched a buzzer beater fly into the goal, and sink the dreams of Mimes everywhere. Such is the craziness that is #IDARB.
Developed by Other Ocean Interactive (Dark Void Zero, South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge), #IDARB began life as an image of a simple red box, which was posted to Twitter in an attempt to gain new game ideas from fans. And, apparently what the public wanted was a crazy cross between basketball and soccer, which is as good of a description of the title as you’re gonna get. It’s a competitive multiplayer experience that is influenced by Super Smash Bros. as much as it is by air hockey.
Like any good sports game, the goal of #IDARB is to throw the ball into your opponent’s goal, with the team that has the most points winning each match. Much like in foosball, the ball is dropped into the middle of the arena after a goal is scored, or at the beginning of a quarter, and then the two teams desperately scramble for it. There is only one arena in the game, which is bad for variety, but good for always having a plan.
Players can shoot from anywhere on the floor, with trickier shots being worth more points. So, for example, executing an alley-oop with your teammate that also manages to bounce off something before going into the goal is worth a considerably greater amount of points than just simply walking into the goal holding the ball. It sounds complicated, but when you’re on the court, everything begins to make sense rather quickly.
While offence is, in my opinion, the best part of the game, defence is also rather important. When you are not holding the ball, you can blast it out of the opposition’s hands with the simple press of a button. The ball doesn’t just pop out either; it typically flies across the arena, which only increases the sheer craziness of the action. For a less chaotic form of defence, players can also intercept passes like All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
Its easy learning curve is what makes #IDARB such a wonderful experience.
This a very simple game to pick up, as even friends of mine who had no prior experience before playing were able to quickly get the hang of the controls and objective. And, since people can quickly jump into the game, it means that almost every match will be as intense as the last. Each possession feels incredibly important, and the chance of something wonderful happening is always a possibility. The best comparison I can make is to say that it’s the modern NBA Jam or NFL Blitz of gaming, more-so than even the recent reboots of those titles.
Humor also plays an important role in the world of #IDARB. The over-bearing and loud announcer gives each steal, interception and goal the proper amount of respect it deserves. Said announcer then introduces the next series of play with a completely out of place quote, like, “Dingoes ate my baby!” Sometimes this random style of humor can come off as grating, but I never really felt that way.
This humor streak can additionally be seen in the brisk single-player story mode that is included with the title. The solid campaign features some rather hilarious dialogue exchanges, and it also serves as a nice tutorial for the game.
One of the things that separates #IDARB from similar multiplayer experiences is its use of social media in each match. Of course, we all know that many games have started to embrace Twitter and Twitch due to the amount of popularity they can bring to a small release. What is remarkable here, though, is the fact that match viewers can directly affect it by Hashbombing the game.
As if things weren’t already crazy in a regular match, Hashbombs add a considerable amount of chaos. There are a handful of commands that sadistic viewers can send in, including creating mirror images of each player and flooding the arena with water. However, while a majority of these game-changers are rather fun, there were a couple that were more annoying than anything else. Specifically Skull, which flashes a skull on the screen in order to startle players, and Freeze, which freezes anyone who touches the ball. Since you can’t specify which Hashbombs are unleashed if you are playing, you’d better hope that you have a nice crowd watching.
For a game that’s as online friendly as #IDARB is, playing online is a rather frustrating experience. I’m not going to criticize the game for the fact that I have had trouble finding a match, specifically due to the fact that it isn’t actually out yet. I will criticize it, though, for the fact that I can’t matchmake into larger games. Other Ocean Interactive is really pushing the idea of “couch vs. couch” multiplayer, which basically means that they want teams to be contained to one room. This is a neat idea, in theory, but it also means that if I’m playing by myself, I can’t just join a party that’s already playing. I’m stuck playing 1v1 until I find someone else to play locally with me.
Depending on how you feel about the style, the old-school look of the title may be a major turnoff. Despite the fact that #IDARB looks old, though, it oozes style and charm. The character sprites range from the well-known (Halo, Killer Instinct) to the absurd (Mimes, Breakfast Foods), and you are most likely going to gravitate to one team after awhile. If you don’t, the game also features a robust creation system, wherein players can create new characters, teams, and even intro music.
On a system that’s dominated by the same style of multiplayer fun, #IDARB is a refreshing change of pace. Its fast-paced and hilarious gameplay is easy to get into, but deep enough to make it worth investing more time. In fact, it’s easily the most fun I have had with a “sports” title in years, so as long as the community can embrace the action, Other Ocean Interactive’s “sports” title could become the next great multiplayer release.
This review was based off the Xbox One exclusive, which we were provided with.
Chaotic, fun and fantastic, #IDARB may just be the best multiplayer experience currently available on the Xbox One.