It's never a good sign when a game doesn't know its own name. It happens on occasion -- never with the top-of-the-line titles, but frequently enough with the below-average fare. Last minute decisions to alter branding, artwork or logos. Eleventh hour changes to products about to ship out the door, or miscommunication, or just a simple lack of caring at all. Who knows why it happens. Bratz Kidz
is the latest victim.
Bratz Kidz is the name of the game as displayed on its packaging, its box and instruction manual. It's also the name used by Ubisoft itself, in press releases and the like. But power on the game, and it's Bratz Kidz Slumber Party -- not a major difference, mind you, but any difference at all is just a bellwether that portends the further inconsistencies you're about to experience. If a game can't even agree on its own name, after all, how can it be expected to maintain coherence anywhere else?
And so Bratz Kidz doesn't. This multiplayer-focused mini-game collection ushers in a parade of confusion following its title screen, with its second offense being its intro movie. This bit of CGI footage, drawn directly from a straight-to-DVD Bratz animated feature, shows off six young girls dancing, striking poses and having fun at a sleep-over. It specifically emphasizes Ginger, a new character separate from the core group of Bratz characters.
And then Ginger's never seen again. She's not actually in the game at all. You can't play as her, and you'll never see here again after that intro clip.
Instead, it's the same old group of Jade, Cloe, Yasmin and Sasha. They're your four choices, as you're next taken into the "Create a Character" menu. Except that you can't "create" anything -- your four choices are the same four Bratz characters. You can rename them, if you like, but you can't personalize them in any way beyond that. Ridiculous.
By the time you actually arrive at any real gameplay, you're disappointed enough not to be surprised at the lacking quality there, as well -- Bratz Kidz offers up a handful of small, two-minute game designs that are each entertaining for about a quarter of that time. There's a sleeping bag sack race, and make-up application. There's squirting moving targets at a carnival, and posing in front of fun house mirrors. There's dancing. There's pizza.
There's not much fun. Each of these mini-games, 11 in all, is half-baked and boring. The controls are repetitive Wii Remote waggle most of the time, the kind that makes your arms sore after 30 seconds. The design ideas are lacking, with nothing innovative or interesting in any of the 11 games.
And, worst of all, some of the games are so annoying that they're almost unplayable -- take the "Don't Stop the Music" mini-game for instance. In it, you use the Wii Remote to move a cursor back and forth along a horizontal line at the bottom of the screen, pressing A when a star of the same color as your cursor lines up with it. Boring, but not annoying yet. The annoyance comes after every fifth star you collect -- any time you or any of the other three characters completes a set of five catches, the entire game stops. The camera zooms in on the girl, a three-second clip of her associated theme music plays, and then the camera returns to its starting position. Until it happens again, three seconds later. And again, two seconds after that. It's absolutely inane. It's like if you were watching an NBA game, and every five seconds all the players just stopped where they were, smiled at the camera and danced, and then went back to playing basketball. Completely ridiculous.
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