Bratz 4 Real (Nintendo DS) Review

By Matthew Evans 08.12.2007 6

I suppose this is punishment for being quite late with my Worms Open Warfare 2 review. Or it could be that I was the only one stupid enough to pipe up when this review copy was swanned around our virtual office...well, a few days of swanning to be more realistic. It’s not hard to imagine why this game wasn't snapped up all that quickly: we are a team of post-pubescent, red meat-eating, hairy-chested, testosterone-fuelled, marginally evolved primates and we get given a game aimed squarely at pre-pubescent girls. Quite simply, none of the team feel like a little girl this week.

I'm probably sounding a bit harsh because I loathe the toys that spawned the movie that this game is based upon. I used to work in Toys R Us and I always used to dread being asked to cover C10 to C16, which was our girl's toy section, because the area is dripping in pure, unadulterated sexism. Now I'm not a feminist myself but girl's toys are socially engineering the entire female species to be subservient to their male counterpart, but at least they had morals unlike the Slutz – ahem – Bratz dolls we had in the aisles. I'd really like to know if the persons who came up with the idea of marketing dolls that looked like hookers to six year old girls actually have daughters themselves and whether or not social services have paid them a visit.

Screenshot for Bratz 4 Real on Nintendo DS

As you can probably guess that after the game has been placed in the rather macho hands of this reviewer that has nothing but venom and bile for this franchise, it’s facing a rather steep, uphill struggle. In fairness to THQ, Bratz 4 Real is making better progress up that hill than the chav-filled Corsa 1.1 trying to get to Tesco to pick up a copy of Need for Speed: My Front Bumper Is Making Mountains Out Of Speed Bumps. The main problem for me when reviewing this game is remembering that it wasn't designed for the likes of me. I've got twenty years of gaming experience behind me, gaming is my hobby and I've even completed the first level of Sonic on the Megadrive in twenty five seconds (trust me, that's hardcore). This game wasn't designed for that type of player; this game was designed for the type of player that is unfortunate enough to think that Bratz dolls are suitable toys for an eight year old.

The game is undeniably mundane, the tasks (chores to us) are very simplistic and are generally constrained to go find this person and go buy this item. The game is almost entirely made up of go fetch missions, it even gets to the point of being pedantic. Tim tells you that he needs a makeover for his date, you say you'll find someone, you find said person and in this instance we'll call her Jane. She agrees to do this task for Tim but instead of telling Tim herself she asks you to do it. Now this wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that they are both on opposite sides of the map and if it was a one-off but it isn't, it’s a very common occurrence and it’s a very tedious common occurrence. These bouts of tedium are broken up by mini-games and an ‘action’ dream segment. The action segment is particularly weird because I still don't quite understand how it works. I've read the instruction book and the method of freeing the trapped school children is not the same way it describes it in the book and if you happen to die, you get another go. Fail it a second time and you get an “oh no I failed” message and the game progresses as normal. It’s all rather pointless because the storyline for these dream segments don't even fit into the plot for the rest of the game.

Screenshot for Bratz 4 Real on Nintendo DS

The mini-games are the game's main saving grace because, as much as the rest of the game grated on my nerves, I'm rather ashamed to admit that I liked them. There are only a handful but they play like Wario Ware: small quick reaction and memory games where you aren't told the basic controls. Well, except for the fact that some of the games are a little more complex than a Wario Ware game which can make them infuriating, especially the flower arranging which not only requires you to drag and drop the flower into a vase but to also catch the flower mid free-fall and place it into the vase, or else it'll fall in front of it.

There's also a second problem I've got with reviewing the game and that's with regards to the presentation. The graphics are basic, lack definition, the camera is a nightmare at times and in all the graphics could be considered plain crap – but it’s also colourful, keeps to the art style of the franchise and works. The sound is bloody nuts, in the game there're a few small FMVs taken straight from the movie which sound as perfect as you can get through the DS' speakers. The sound effects and music are pretty and inoffensive, it’s just that they are missing something. No, I literally mean they are missing something; one of the three main maps, the mall, has no music at all. There's some lovely bird chirping and the beautiful sound of rushing water coming from the fountain but no background music whatsoever. After some of the cutscenes the music and sound effects just don't start for no apparent reason. Written dialogue is often repeated and/or said by the wrong person to the wrong person but luckily due to the lack of differing characters it doesn't make the blind bit of difference.

Screenshot for Bratz 4 Real on Nintendo DS

In all, the game lacks depth, higher standards of quality, plot, character development and all of the other things we as gamers take for granted in games, but then again this game is aimed at a demographic who don't even know what character development is, can't spell plot due to failing literacy standards and quite frankly couldn't give a monkey’s about that list. It has Bratz on the box, it’s playable, has mini-games, has interactive customizable dolls, and it even has a pet you can look after. That's all they are looking for and this game panders to that outlook.

This is exactly where the review becomes unstuck. Based on the critique above this game should have a final score more in line with Ys Strategy and Biker Mice from Mars, both appalling games that were given final marks of zero and one respectively to show this. Bratz isn't deserving of that type of mauling though. Ys Strategy and Biker Mice from Mars were scored low because they were crap games even with regard to their designated audience. Bratz is bad by my standards and most likely yours as well, but it's not bad by the standards of its demographic, it's actually rather good. It's very faithful to the movie, which thankfully has better moral standards than the toys, it's not too hard or too long for the child's expected abilities. The tedium I experienced was from playing this in a five hour stint - a girl of that age isn't going to have the attention span to play a game for five hours, and the mini-games and doll-dressing are good enough to drag their attention away from the main game and keep them occupied. Quite simply I wouldn't buy it and I'd be worried if any male looking for a game for themselves got past the Bratz logo on the front of the box to look at the description on the back. On the other hand if you have a young daughter/sister/niece/etc. who's got a DS and she is bored of Nintendogs then this would make the perfect Christmas present. So while the score breakdowns reflect the game being reviewed on its own merits compared to other games the final score is based on its value to a young female child, which is why it's marked higher than expected.

Screenshot for Bratz 4 Real on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

If you exist in any demographic outside of the 3-12 year old girl group this game is not for you, so a final score is irrelevant. If you are buying for a young girl though and can find this at a suitable price (I'd recommend the

Developer

THQ

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

Comments

I like how under 'Similar Scoring Games' it comes up with XGIII and FIFA 2005...

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

I'm just hoping people take the time to read the review and not just look at the score and similar scoring games.

Matthew Evans [ Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread ] As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.
Guest 09.12.2007#3

A very fair review, I think. Not overly harsh even though you did say you hated the little bratz.

One thing I would like to say is that maybe you could get some opions from the audience this game is catered towards. Reviewing a game by trying your best to look at it from a 'tweenie's point of view is not ideal.

(the way you're comparing the bratz with hookers...isn't that what they said of barbie back in the day?)

I let a few daughters of the guys I'm doing panto with play it for awhile and they all liked it and thats the main reason it scored above average.

Have you seen the dolls though? They look like small whores and thats what I really loathe about them. The characters in the game are based on the movie which dress properly.

Matthew Evans [ Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread ] As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.
Guest 11.12.2007#5

Ah good, I kind of expected you did, great review then.

I have taken a look at an image of the dolls and they look like how some girls would dress themselves these days. I don't think the dolls are really a big unfluence on kids, there will always be some who will take whoreness as an example though. I guess it's the in thing to do now with Paris Hilton being so famous for her sluttyness. It will probably pass like most fads.

guest (guest) 28.05.2015#6

Can you please tell me how to play with other people.

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