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Silly Bandz

Score: 82%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Zoo Games
Developer: Zoo Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Family/ Action/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

If you'd told us we'd be playing (and enjoying) a game based solely on stretchy accessories, we would have laughed in your face, but Silly Bandz has indeed inspired a game. The idea of a Silly Bandz game suggests some fashion mini-game, or dressing up a character at least, but that's not what's happening here. The entire experience is all about playing with Silly Bandz, including the look and feel of the game. You literally spend the entire time stretching, pulling, and then watching the Silly Bandz in action, and eventually building a collection. Up to 200 can be found, making the price of this game a bargain compared to buying packs of Silly Bandz at the store. Light-hearted visuals are matched with similarly light music and sound effects, enough to keep kids' attention and draw them in, but not enough to provide any "wow" factor. This is a licensed game that is decidedly no frills in its approach, but one that gets the gameplay right. One nice touch is the use of both screens to represent a larger area, making you feel like you really have a nice, big play area.


Where the developers took Silly Bandz was the right direction. The game is a series of stages that correspond to various theme packs you can purchase, such as Marine. Each Silly Bandz pack has a mix of unique or rare bracelets, along with the round/star basics. In each stage, you tackle set pieces where you'll be rewarded with a pack's worth of Silly Bandz for your performance. The idea is that each level has several trapped Silly Bandz that you have to free to move forward. The process for doing this is to stretch a band you have in stock, and fire it off at structures where other Silly Bandz are being held. It's like you're releasing them from prison or something, and they handily join your collection once you can find a way to free them all in a level.

This is basically a shoot-out or bombing game in disguise, similar to a few Casual titles we've seen and played that involved shooting cannons at an opponent. The idea of measuring angle and velocity is nothing new, but the Silly Bandz add an element of bounce that cannonballs don't generally display. You'll also find some interesting obstacles in each level, designed to slow or stop your Silly Bandz assault. When you have a chance to get another player involved, Silly Bandz for DS lets you do it. You can take turns in a level to determine whose skills reign supreme.


The level of challenge is uneven, at best. Some levels seem nearly impossible, requiring luck and repetition before you can move forward. This wouldn't be terrible for the last few levels of the game, but challenges like this are introduced in the early middle of Silly Bandz. Mechanics are the least of your worries; it isn't about what you do here, but how you do it. Adjusting how the Silly Bandz fly and drop can be challenging, which means that young kids may have difficulty nailing the gameplay. It's a shame that you aren't allowed to "load" Silly Bandz into some kind of launcher, rather than tug on them with the stylus. Even with reflexes honed through years of action gaming, we had a tough time getting the load-on exactly right. Some of the time, you'll tap the wrong way or release too early and send your Silly Bandz in weird directions. These feel like cheap moments. On the other hand, helper-features like the contrails left by flying Silly Bandz allow you to see where you fired previously and adjust on the fly. It's a mixed bag that is thankfully mixed toward the side of easy to pick up and play.

Game Mechanics:

Controls are kept simple, with nothing more complicated than a bow-and-arrow tug on the Silly Bandz launcher. You don't have any guides at the beginning of a level, but once you take a shot, you can track and adjust by watching the path of your previous salvo. Everything about the interface is stripped down, but there's enough to help you understand what's required. You can tap and drag to move the field of play in one direction or another. This gives you a sense of where your shots need to go, based on the obstacles you are facing. When you finish a level, the game auto-saves and gives you the chance to continue, retry, or return to the main menu. There isn't much to do from the main menu other than launch a 2-Player game or view your collection. Kids will love the collecting aspects of the game, even if there isn't a corresponding trade feature. The Silly Bandz craze has met its match in a fun game that really does make smart use of the touch interface. We're not sure Silly Bandz is going to pull any kids away from Zelda or whatever other crazy game they happen to be playing now, but it will be an instant hit with kids that like to collect these stretchy tidbits. Usually, we'd be shocked at the idea of making a game for items that aren't inherently "fun." Silly Bandz for DS proves us wrong and demonstrates that sometimes a simple idea is all you need. Much like rolling out a line of stretch bracelets for kids that have spawned a huge number of knock-offs... At least in the videogame world, there's nothing quite like Silly Bandz, and the DS library is better off for having this included. Don't be fooled by the tie-in to your kids' bracelets - this is a real game that would be quite playable whether Silly Bandz existed or not. In a nice touch of "life stranger than fiction," it took a simplistic toy to generate a less simplistic, but fun, game for DS owners. Here's hoping for the iPad version...

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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