Bratz Rock Angelz has me at an unfortunate disadvantage. It seems I'm not a young female fashionista between the age of four and 14 who might also enjoy becoming an international rock sensation. So I probably shouldn't be the one scurrying about town pretending to live again through the eyes of four hip Angelz on unchecked shopping sprees. But hey, we play the cards life deals us. Though I think life might have just dealt me a therapy session.
And here we are! I enjoy Bratz. Rather, I think the people it's intended for will enjoy it.
I know. When I see my therapist next we'll discuss how exactly it is I don't mind dressing girls up and taking pictures of bunny rabbits for twelve hours. But then that's just another unfortunate side effect of working the industry and having to admit a game clearly not designed for me is still clearly designed well. But there is that very good chance Bratz Rock Angelz isn't designed for you, either. So watch out.
If you're reading IGN you're likely a young male big on killing living things with heavy weapons. If that's true (which it obviously is unless you're seriously abnormal), the "befriend animal" option in Bratz will not appeal to you at all. There's also the t-shirt designing, posing, roller-skating, fashion magazine creating, animal photographing, girl interacting, shopping, makeup wearing, face painting and coin collecting that won't appeal to you. But did you catch all that? Chances are a good bit of it will appeal to someone, eh? Chances are that special girl between the age of four and 14 that isn't the heavy weapons experts we all claim to be will be very happy with her new copy of Bratz Rock Angelz.
Bratz features a good amount of play value and a surprisingly well developed and nicely presented game world. Because of that there's a real sense of four to 14 catering going on -- someone clearly put thought and effort into making a complete, cohesive game for that audience. So I'm not about to dismiss Bratz simply because I have the parts that make me more prone to killing things with fire. Since it's so nicely put together and very appealing to its market, it's thus very good...at what it does.
In Bratz, players take on the role of one of four totally absurd girls obsessed with appearance and personal advancement. As any one of these young dreamers, gamers will create a magazine to rival the industry's leading fashion rag, venture around the world on a punk rock expedition, dabble in photography and generally shop, shop, shop. There's so much shopping, in fact, the various mall portions of the game comprise half the quest. Most of the missions involve changing clothes, buying new clothes, creating a new wardrobe, applying new makeup, purchasing other makeup, mimicking the style of someone else, altering your own image in some way, concocting a unified image for all the Angelz, creating new posters and t-shirts, and generally going bananas with the spending of money in a store of some sort.
Notice the themes. Create. Make. Alter. Change. Apply. Cooperate. Advance. This is exactly why young girls should dig Bratz. It's a game that uses a candy-pop style to hypnotize girls and then starts slapping them with basic gameplay devices that exploit their very nature. The purpose of woman is to create and this whole game is about making and changing stuff. It's brilliant! Bratz provides young girls with the liberty to redo their characters however they desire and then partake in an exciting fashion adventure with the people they've essentially made.
"Young girls." Don't forget that bit, though. It's for the young, this Bratz of ours. Mature players looking for an intricate game of international intrigue will be sorely disappointed by the posing mini-games and all the spontaneous roller-skating. Bratz, for as conceptually sound and well presented as it may be, is a highly directed, structured title with little advanced play. Even though there are a healthy amount of mini-games to participate in (such as rummaging through a bargain bin to pick a new outfit up for your girlfriend) there's not a lot of brain-tickling discovery or management or classic adventure to be had. It's definitely for the wee ones who won't mind some of the tedium we older folk associate with revisiting the mall 50 times. Please remember that.
Now seeing as it is for these younger girls, what the heck is up with the subject matter?
If inappropriate content in videogames can adversely impact the youth of our nation, how can we encourage young girls to dress promiscuously in a game that focuses on the application of makeup and an approved obsession with vanity? I just don't know if it's healthy for impressionable girls to be bombarded by more of these messages.
Just look at how the Bratz earn money. After completing arbitrary assignments players are rewarded with the equivalent of cash. Okay. But, most of the time just walking around yields coin. Money appears on the ground! This is what we're teaching our girls? "Honey, go saunter around a mall and find some money while you try on clothes. That's all you're good for." What? It would have been nice if instead of posing for some nightclub owner's personal gratification and scooping up quarters we'd have to earn our cash with other interesting photography assignments and mini-games, like building all sorts of different wardrobes and applying makeup at film shoots. Obviously that still pigeonholes young girls who'll play this game into a very specific set of career opportunities, but at least it's not "dancing scavenger."
Anyway, that's what girls like. Right? At least that's what girls who'll like this game will like. So what sort of a 24-year-old boy am I to complain when the rest of the game is so nicely put together? There's a lot of poppy music. The voice work is excellent. The graphics are clean. The load times are minimal. The story is amusing. And, the various creation mini-games challenge girls to apply their sense of style and creativity (of which I personally have none, God bless me).
So what if it teaches Amy to be a shoe hound groupie.
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