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Bratz: Girlz Really Rock

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Barking Lizards
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 (1 - 2 Multi-Card Play)
Genre: Adventure/ Rhythm/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

I feel that I have to mention, before and above all else, that I had to put my masculinity aside... waaaay aside... to pick up and play THQ's newest Bratz title, Girlz Really Rock. Of course, I am looking at this game objectively, but bear with me and realize that this game is intended and geared solely toward adolescent girls, and that is how I am approaching this title. With that said, onward ho!

Graphically, Bratz: Girlz Really Rock is a mixed bag on the Nintendo DS. The environments tend to be a bit drab. While some of the interiors have a bit more detail, the outdoor environments tend to be way too low on polygon counts and, even in a stylized sort of way, the texture quality for some things leaves me unimpressed.

The character models actually look fairly good (in their stylized way), while the environments are sometimes a bit on the boring side. With the former, there are many characters to not only choose from and play as, but also that you can talk to throughout the game. All have the same basic look, but it is that style that can actually catch the eye and scream "fun" from the get-go. One cool feature that is thrown into Girlz Really Rock is that you can paint makeup onto your characters' faces and you can dye their hair. Unfortunately, the detail level of this feature is a bit low, so instead of looking nice, it can easily make your characters look like they got into a paint fight.

The audio of Bratz: Girlz Really Rock is like a double-edged sword. Even though there is a fair amount of dialogue present throughout the game while talking to other characters, none of it is spoken, which takes away from the enjoyment a bit. The background music is very upbeat and has a catchy beat box mix to it. Well, I should say that it was catchy when I first popped this cartridge into the DS, but it soon got very old in its repetitive nature. This is one title where you will likely not loose a beat with it muted.


Gameplay:

Bratz: Girlz Really Rock will take you all over the place in terms of gameplay, but what it really boils down to is that you will take on the role of one of the four Bratz members (and can switch between them after you get going with the game), trying to bridge the gap between videogames, fashion, and music. Along the way, you will encounter a host of different types of mini-games and dialogue between playable and non-playable characters while you work to fulfill a ton of bite-sized quests.

The game world is quite small, unfortunately, and you will find yourself playing "fetch" most of the game, accomplishing such missions as "go talk to Ron" or "buy a T-shirt, necklace, and bracelet." These quests are generally very shallow in terms of gameplay, and will have you walking back and forth throughout the camp where the game's setting takes place. In the course of these short instructions, you will also be prompted to play different types of mini-games, from playing with your dog to matching your dance steps to the beat of the music.

Herein lies the problem, however. With the music games, like the above mentioned or others where you play your guitar, for example, you will have to match the beat of music that is seemingly non-existent. So instead of getting into a rhythm like in other music-based games, Girlz Really Rock falls short, and it instead becomes a matter of hand-eye coordination instead. There are a lot of mini-games to play, however, so the variety in this title makes up for some of its other shortcomings.

All of these mini-games and retrieval missions are for a purpose, however. The girls are getting ready for a talent competition, which also brings the fashion aspect of the game into play. In addition, you can create fashion items that can be sold so that you can earn more money. This money can also be earned by going back to play previously played mini-games, and two players can take part in mini-games with two game cartridges.

Aside from the simple quests put before you and the easy nature of the game, Bratz: Girlz Really Rock will likely appeal greatly to young girl gamers. There is a sense of fun that comes with this title, which is something to be said since it goes against the norm and doesn't contain any violence of any kind.


Difficulty:

Bratz: Girlz Really Rock is definitely geared toward the younger crowd, specifically adolescent girls who may or may not typically find themselves playing videogames. As such, this game isn't difficult by any means. The only requirement that I can see after playing is that the user will need to know how to read. Since all of the chatting in the game is done through text and not voice, extremely young children may not fully understand what to do. This is especially true when it comes to directions for buying items or for mini-game instructions in general.

When it comes to the quest portions of the game, it mostly involves reading the instructions and going to a specific location on the map. As such, your destinations are well-marked, making it extremely easy (almost mindless) to know where you need to go next. This means that the game world will get very familiar, and you may find yourself a bit bored on top of that.

The mini-game portion of the game is rather entertaining and can vary from extremely easy to borderline hard. An example of the difficulty can be shown with the dance steps. Typical to many music-based games, icons will scroll across the screen and you need to use your stylus to tap them as they cross the markers. However, with dancing, these markers change locations periodically, so a quick hand is needed. With that said, the scores needed for moving on are generally low, so many gamers will do well enough despite the difficulty.


Game Mechanics:

This game utilizes the DS's abilities perfectly. Instead of forcing you to play either through the touch screen or through the standard controller, you will have your choice. Touch the screen in any direction to make your character move there, or use the D-pad if you prefer. In the same way, using the (A) and (B)> buttons will accept and go back, respectively, during chats or Menus, or you can simply click on the screen to do the same. There were a few times, however, where the interface required touching the screen, but it was relatively minimal in doing so.

The mini-games all offer up their own challenges and interface options. Some games will require the controller button use, like the Snood clone that lays within this game, while others will require using the stylus, as with the music-based games. No matter what the method of choice may be, however, Bratz: Girlz Really Rock utilizes the controls masterfully.

Being targeted toward younger girls, Bratz: Girlz Really Rock will likely be a fun alternative to the boy-centric games that monopolize the market. As long as you don't take this game as first being an adventure game, it will be enjoyable. While very repetitive in the missions and walking back and forth through the game levels, the mini-games can sometimes be an entertaining break from the mundane. Bratz: Girlz Really Rock will likely make a great gift for any young gamer girl.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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