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#IDARB / 6th of February 2015

#IDARB is an arcade pixel inspired fast paced 8-player eSport platforming arena ball game that is highly addictive, incredibly fun and utterly mental. Imagine a mix between some orthodox sports, football and basketball, with a platformer on LSD all the while taking inspiration from Bomberman and Smash Bros. You may be thinking that if the game’s that mad then it must be solid, not so, the game is such an easy progression for newcomers and allows people to slide up the learning curve with ease. This game already has quite the reputation with the public, as it found its origins in crowd-sourcing, it was developed by Other Ocean Interactive, the team that brought us Dark Void Zero and South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, as well as many fans and creative internet users. Due to the public’s constant input the game is always looking to evolve, much like an artist’s “mechanic sketchbook” making #IDARB a retro return to modernity.

The aim of the game is to get the ball in the goal and scrambling to score enough points to beat the opposite team. You can score a 5pointer, a 3pointer or just the 1 point depending on where you score from. There are 4 rounds per game and a time limit for each round adding to the mayhem that ensues. While the game can be played offline or online as 1v1, 1v2, 2v2, etc, it really comes into its element when its 4v4 and everyone’s battling it out, literary shooting each other for one more point. While jumping all over the screen trying to steal the ball score a goal, various multipliers and mechanics are in effect such as the ball becoming a ticking time bomb, the screen shaking frantically, the screen tilting in random directions or the platforms exploding raining debris down on the players and making it harder to manoeuvre, all these layers help add to the insanity of #IDARB.

When playing against full teams you need to get inventive with your passing and goals, setting up your teammates for alley-oops and other strategic goals that offer you the most points, all the while defending your own goal and trying to stay focused as the game throws distraction after distraction at you. Just in case you get bored of all that, playing online or in tournaments #IDARB offers you a wealth of some creativeness to sink your teeth into. If you tire of the teams on offer, including some relevant iconic teams (Halo, Dead Presidents, Minecraft, Guardians of The Galaxy, etc) you can always create your own pixelated sprites, pixel by pixel, creating an entire team to compete and even a logo to go along with it. Better still why not have a bash a music production and make your own retro music to listen to in game or while you take part in fantasy gambling, betting on teams to win or lose.

#IDARB is full of mad little touches that help to expand the fun of the game and add entirely new gaming experiences, for example when you have defended your goal for too long you incur a penalty and are thrown into the sin bin unable to get out for a certain amount of time. This penalty time however can be greatly reduced if you go along the bottom of the screen jumping into the borders making spikes appear on the map hurting all those that hit them. There are another few wee touches that add to this game; like witnessing your avatar bursting into flames allowing you to move a tad faster, having your controls reversed when another player lands on your head, or maybe you simply disagree with who got MVP, so you button bash your way to the top, and whilst you’re at it, why not hunt some ducks at halftime too? One of the best touches of madness is the integration of Twitch and Twitter, namely the use of HashBombs. Hashbombs allow viewers of your match to send commands that alter the game for instance flooding the map, mirroring images of the players, freezing anyone that touches the ball or having a giant skull flash on the screen, all these HashBombs add to the chaos and mass confusion of the game.

The graphics almost act as secondary attacks, playing a part in setting the overall atmosphere of craziness that help you to lose sight of the ball, your player and quite possibly your mind.  That said, the graphics are certainly nothing spectacular, in fact they’re what you’d expect, an old school pixelated arcade style with some modern blur effects, ball flashes, stylised drag, and strobe lighting that is not recommended for those suffering from epilepsy! The map itself never changes, and it always has the same layout, but the background images are at least vary between a standard football pitch, a western backdrop, a barren dessert, a haunted forest and a cityscape. The sound is much the same as the graphics, retro, they fit well though, the music is fairly catchy and the in game commentator offers nothing but laughs as he throws out some classic movie quotes as feedback for your actions.

I think you will either love or hate this game, if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. However, the greatest advantage that this game has over its contemporaries is its accessibility. Almost anyone can pick up and play this game, score goals and tackle players with the press of a button, of course you will find yourself hard pressed against an #IDARB enthusiast, but the game is simple enough and easy enough to control that even your gran could have a shot and do well. The immersion of Twitter and Twitch into games is only going to increase, however, while #IDARB benefits from this at times it can also be a bit too much, and sometimes become quite frustrating affairs as have others hold so much power over you. The game doesn’t deviate from the standard formula too much, but what it lacks in variation it more than makes up for with an incredibly fast paced multiplayer experience that’s fun, addictive, and hugely entertaining for all the family.

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