IGN Review of Bratz Ponyz
The Bratz are a group of glamorous girls with a passion for fashion. Shopping for new outfits, finding the perfect accessory, starring on stage and screen – all are part of their fabulous lifestyle, a lifestyle that's been appealing to young women now for years through a variety of toy, video and music products. And now it's growing even bigger. In the wake of the theatrical release of the first Bratz live-action film, the fanfare has expanded now to include yet more fashion-mad characters – this time, though, they're not even human.
Bratz Ponyz recasts the four headlining girls as well-groomed horses. The idea being, of course, to appeal simultaneously to both young girls' familiarity with the Bratz brand and their common love of ponies – and, interestingly, it kind of works. The world of Ponyz created in this game is vibrant and attractive, and though the gameplay accompanying the fresh presentation is a bit too limited, the Bratz target audience will likely enjoy every minute of this adventure.
And an adventure it is. Though appearing to be a fairly basic virtual pet experience at first, Bratz Ponyz is actually home to a bit of a world-exploring quest – not a deep one, but a quest all the same. You first start out by choosing one of four possible foals. Then, setting out from your home in Ponyz Town, you scout around looking for shops, boutiques and other buildings, each home to different mini-games.
All are related to fashion and the further beautification of your horse – a make-up hut offers games that let you clean your pony's face, apply mascara and the like; the hairstyle house offers brushing, shampooing and coloring activities; the jewelry store gives you a bead-stringing game that sends you home with a new necklace after a successful play, and the tattoo parlor tasks you to trace and fill an on-hide ink design. Bratz Ponyz gives you daily agendas for which activities to complete next, and by following through and successfully winning at progressively harder versions of the same games you'll slowly unlock more of the Ponyz island world.
None of the mini-games are all that deep or engaging, but a few do present some unique ideas. There's a game in which you're given a hairdryer and asked to remove all the dripping water droplets from your filly's mane – it's controlled by dragging the stylus to position the airflow and simultaneously blowing into the DS microphone to spin up the dryer's fan. Blow too hard, though, and the device will burn out and explode. That's a new one.
New, too, is the overall structure and open-ended world design presented here. Previous Bratz titles have limited the time between mini-games to simple menus, or to single rooms populated with a few other characters. Ponyz doesn't go overly far in improving that sense of interpersonal sparseness – there are still only a handful of other characters to talk to – but the world is much larger and feels much freer. It's most similar to Nintendo's Animal Crossing, interestingly enough, in that your character has her own house and you can visit other buildings around town, all at your own leisure. But then there are four other additional islands to visit, too, once you tire of your home sweet home.
Traveling between land masses is achieved through trips by either boat or balloon, and each of these sequences becomes an interactive mini-game as well. Like the earlier fashion-based designs the boating and ballooning are similarly limited, but it's a nice touch to have something to do during the travel scenes. After you arrive at your destination, you'll find more opportunities to play mini-games, ultimately earning collectible marbles that can be exchanged back inside your home for new pieces of fashiontastic furniture. Then it's lather, rinse and repeat on that cycle until the end of the game.
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