Platform: Xbox One
Style: 1 to 8-Player Action (8-Player Online)
Publisher: Other Ocean Interactive
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Release: February 4
The Bottom Line: 8.25/10
Concept: Cross basketball, hockey, and a classic 8-bit platformer to create a frantic multiplayer experience
Graphics: Visuals are plain in favor of solid mechanics and customization
Sound: Music takes a backseat to the action, but what does surface is enjoyable. The music creator is impressive in its versatility
Playability: Tight controls make platforming and firing off shots a joy
Entertainment: Vying for points next to a collection of friends scratches many of the same multiplayer itches as Super Smash Bros.
Replay Value: High
A New Sport For The Interactive Entertainment Era
Other Ocean’s #IDARB, or It Draws a Red Box, began as a tweet from developer Mike Mika asking for input from his followers on a project for which he didn’t have any particular plans or ultimate goals. After continued input from the community, the result became #IDARB, an eSports game with an absurd sense of humor and a frantic, contagious energy.
The rules of the game are simple: Get the ball in the goal. How many points you get for scoring a goal depends on where you take your shots, where the ball goes before it gets to the goal, and how you take advantage of the players on your team (and the opponents getting in your way).
Rounds get chaotic quickly, and adding more players only makes things crazier. Even without hitting the 4v4 maximum, matches look like a children’s soccer game; a horde of players follows the ball around trying to gain control of it, if only for a moment. A pass button allows room for teamwork and tactics, but jamming the steal button and flinging the ball towards your goal with reckless abandon can be just as much fun.
It was against single opponents where I saw the potential #IDARB has to become an intricate competitive game with skill-dependent tactics. For me though, I had the most fun yelling at other players on the couch as we volleyed the ball back and forth while the announcer shouted references to TV shows like Mr. Show and movies like Chinatown between rounds.
Hashtag bombs offer a unique way for those not directly involved (including watching via live stream) to interact with the action. Spectators can tweet certain hashtags at @idarbwire to make strange things happen. For example, #puketrain makes the screen zoom in and out.
Simple commands like #lights cause the arena to go dark. One even turns every player into a clown for no particular reason. Hashtag bombs function like items in Super Smash Bros., randomly creating frenzy and turnovers. Some players will be eager to turn them off to keep things fair, but I love the wrenches they throw in the works. I even use them while playing online against single opponents just to make things crazy.
Creating your own players, teams and soundtracks is a big draw for #IDARB, and though I don’t consider myself talented when it comes to in-game creation, I had fun toying with #IDARB’s tools. I made an avatar that looked like myself, and other editors used #IDARB’s online creation tool to make themselves. All they had to do was send me a QR code of their characters for them to be added to my Game Informer team. I even made an approximation of the musical theme that appears before Game Informer’s Test Chamber show that now plays whenever my team wins.
With only a single mode, a few minigames peppered in, and one arena, the experience lacks overall variety. A single-player mode against A.I. opponents is available, but playing it doesn’t unlock new features or even offer many achievements. If you’re not interested in playing with others, I can’t recommend #IDARB. Even going online by yourself into matchmaking forces you into 1v1 games unless you have others sitting next to you playing – a disappointing limitation.
#IDARB is a fantastic party game with its large player count, simple-yet-solid mechanics, and the ability to let those spectating interact. It’s the perfect game to keep loaded on your Xbox One, as long as you have someone nearby to join the fun.