Bratz Super Babyz (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
You only have to look at our database to see just how popular Bratz have been on handhold consoles. Since 2004 they've also had numerous movie outings where they've done everything from save Christmas to enjoy far less adventurous sleepovers. Some years ago we even had a competition here at Ds-x2, which saw a record number of entries. In short Bratz is franchise gold, whatever they put their name to sells bucket loads. Games are a little different though and, although this will no doubt sell, the dreaded movie tie-in has delivered so many disappointments over the years. Let's just hope this isn't one of them.
The game begins with a series of task based levels were you play as one of the Bratz and aid one of the many village inhabitants who require your help. This can range from collecting animals, following food crumbs to battling it out with bullies. This is all pretty simple but locating the five gems on each level can be far more challenging. These allow you to unlock goodies and a handy 'mobile phone' interface allows you to replay the levels should you fails to locate all the gems. More 3D exploration takes place in a fairground, which is also where the bulk of the mini-games are located. You'll generally have to play these to fulfill a requirement from someone you meet but they do also become available from the main menu once completed.
Possibly the most enjoyable section of the whole game though is when you enter the haunted house when the game becomes kind of Zelda-esque. It is all viewed from above with the Bratz now in 2D and a map slowly being drawn as you enter a new room. It involves avoiding all manner of nasties, flipping switches, activating bridges and finally reaching your goal, which is generally locating a missing object. This section had to be an afterthought but unlike other 'eleventh hour' additions it is very welcome and actually enhances the overall package. There's even a Multiplayer but, as this is simply a case of locating Gems around the neighborhood, most of you will give it a miss.
The traditional controls do the most of the movement but as the Bratz don't seem to want to travel in a straight line it can get a little frustrating as they meander though the various environments. Thankfully not all the game is based in the 3D arena, and the mini-games are touch screen based.
Visually this game is a little bit of a surprise for your average pre-teen title and the 3D engine is really quite competent. This is essential as most of the gameplay takes place in an open environment, which is well designed and reasonably large, with no fogging and a good selection of textures. The various character models are also pleasing and a great deal larger than in previous titles. Fans of the movie are also catered for with the welcome addition of unlockable stills and FMV clips lifted from the DVD.
While the music and sound effects found in the main game are somewhat forgettable, you can unlock some 'hip beatz' in the unlockable sections that are far better quality and, like the movie clips, will delight Super Babyz fans.
You'll need your stylus to play the mini-games, which are reasonably varied. There's the usual slide puzzle (which actually solves itself after a given amount of time), a Wack-a-Mole inspired Alien Hunt and even a shooting gallery with a slingshot as opposed to a gun. In addition to this you can also play Dress Up but you will need to find the various outfits scattered around the levels.
While Super Babyz is hardly going to appeal to the hardcore gamer, it will no doubt please Bratz fans everywhere and the combination of 3D exploration and mini-games is a perfect balance for your average pre-teen gamer. It does have its shortfalls though and the control and presentation elements definitely let down the overall package, as does the rather odd inclusion of an Alien Invasion sub plot. That aside though, there's a generous amount of gameplay here and the various unlockables will keep some gamers coming back for more.
Pro: Nice 3D Engine, Fun Mini-Games.
Con: Not Very Original.
Final score: 5.5