It Draws A Red Box started life as a picture of a red box. Other Ocean Interactive asked Twitter what it should do with that red box. Twitter answered. The studio listened and a game was created. How times are changing. A year later, and we have the most entertaining same-couch co-op available on Xbox One. An eight-player futuristic arena ball game focused on cultivating the excitement, fun and frantic action of an eSports environment in your living room.
#IDARB achieves this by being chaos connected to a controller. Up to eight players drop into a small area and battle it out to get a ball into the back of the opposition’s goal. It sounds simple enough, right? But if you can get three friends onto your couch with three extra game pads, then your living room is about to explode into a mess of screams, shouts and rapturous noise. That’s #IDARB’s secret – despite its simple appearance, it has an infectious quality to it. That hyper- competitive edge to your personality, the one you probably keep sedated to function appropriately in day-to-day life, will be drawn out and it won’t be pretty. But it will be super fun.
Where #IDARB succeeds is by making the mechanics easy enough for everyone to quickly grasp, but by hiding depth in showboating. The game is so damned fast that it almost feels like a collection of random events. Players leap manically across the screen; intercepting passes, tackling one another, taking pot-shots at the goal and generally trying to manoeuvre play from one side of the field to the other. With only four buttons to worry about, the strategy comes from deft character movement and making the most of every shot opportunity you have.
Because in #IDARB, the more ludicrous the shot, the bigger the points. The game will reward you with one point for a walk in, two for a standard shot and, well, it skyrockets from there. If you get the space to charge a shot you can start trying to calculate ball bounces, and that’s where the big points – and big reactions – come into play. For every bounce of the ball towards the goal you’ll get a multiplier, and there’s nothing quite like turning around an entire game with a 20-point goal after getting owned for the better part of five minutes.
This is where the competitive action comes into play. If you can, get four players on your couch and connect into a matchmade game of another four players sitting on a couch around the world – plug in Kinect as a group microphone – and wait for the madness and swearing to ensue. It’s insane how quickly games can be turned around, how one bad round can keep things level. Despite the speed and chaos, #IDARB is incredibly balanced. It rarely feels like you’re being outplayed; the opportunity for a comeback is always lingering. It makes #IDARB feel accessible in a way FIFA and NBA aren’t.
Other Ocean Interactive also takes the level of community involvement to a whole new level with the aforementioned love of hashtags. While all the action is going on, a tickertape runs along the bottom of the screen showing tweets directed at your game. Each arena game you start has a specific hashtag associated with it that can then be used on Twitter to interact with your game in a number of pretty cool and maddening ways. Sure, you can just send a few tweets through to the game and mock the people playing – or you can take it one step further and drop a #hashbomb on their unsuspecting asses.
By directing certain #commands through to your game you can change the game in some surface or specific ways. You can, for example, chose to Rick Roll the entire room – throwing people off their game. You can turn the ball into a bomb for a short period of time or turn the gravity off entirely. It sounds silly – and you know what, it is. But it gives people watching an entirely fresh way to interact, troll and enjoy watching competitive multiplayer games. It also does a great job of keeping #IDARB’s only arena fresh – you never know what’s going to happen in a game.
#IDARB is a game built to be played with friends. While it includes a single-player mode, it’s entirely pointless. This is a game designed to be played shoulder to shoulder with screaming humans. If you can get into a room with eight people – four players across two couches around the world – then #IDARB is genuinely some of the most fun you’re likely to have with your Xbox One. Sadly, with only one arena, its longevity feels threatened from the beginning. Still, if you’re after an accessible but immensely entertaining sports game to play with your friends, then you can’t go wrong with #IDARB.