Red Bull BC One (DS) review
"Even if the simple gameplay were tweaked to its maximum amount of enjoyment, no link is established to the main attraction: breakdancing. Sure, if I refrain from moving the stylus, my tiny dancer will passively bob to a generic beat. And when I complete a shape, his silhouette in the background pulls off some random move in sync with his full figure up on the top screen. But I don't see how my triangles, pentagons, and dodecahedrons specifically translate into coin drops, belly swims, or airchairs. "
Red Bull BC One, the annual international individual breakdancing championships, generates enormous energy. Sixteen elite qualifiers gather from around the globe to show off their footwork, freezes, and power moves, but only one winner emerges from the single-elimination tournament. This DS software recognizes the competition's worldwide appeal by presenting a range of language options: English, Spanish, German, Italian, and French. But Red Bull BC One, the game, produces no such energy. Its straightforward connect-the-dots gameplay is completely divorced from the dynamic showmanship of breaking.
The game's self-described puzzle-oriented style starts with a smattering of dots on the touch screen. These points are different colors, and you're given roughly ten seconds to form as many shapes as you can by drawing lines between like objects without lifting the stylus. At first, there are only two types of points. In the end, it rises all the way to three varieties. Higher scores are awarded for larger shapes, with extra for connecting all homogeneous dots in a single polygon. Occasionally, you can pull in another bonus by only including a specified number of vertices. The small time frame actually makes it less interesting because it limits feasible tactics, especially in multiplayer (local multicard only). For later stages with groups in the teens, there's barely enough time to complete the biggest shapes, leaving no room for any real decision making.
A proper b-boy battle consists of a series of such screens; twelve in total with a minigame splitting the middle and capping the end. Those little breaks could have you tapping over the fast footprints of a dance pattern, coloring or tracing a tricky pose, or quickly drawing circles for a headspin. In addition to providing a respite, they're also an opportunity to inflate your score without the threat of losing. Any battle prematurely ends after three mistakes; these include connecting mismatched colors, treading over the same point twice, and eventually leaving a shape unfinished as time expires. The patterns aren't random; they're laid out the same every time you play a level. As congestion increases, though, these obstacles become slighty harder to avoid. Technically, you can also fail by finishing under your opponent's point threshold, with the final boss posting a cutoff of 50K. But that's a figure I obliterated on every single stage just by playing it safe. Given such minimal requirements, there's little suspense in the outcome.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't follow the structure of the actual tournament. Instead it sends your created competitor to challenge the fictional cream of different countries. Then you crash the championships to defeat the best of them again; there's a total of 36 battles. It further breaks from reality with its primitive, polygonal 3-D character models. Faces have no features, just sharp edges to project an aggressive attitude. A little more detail goes into the outfits, which you can alter along with body type. Fashion is a large part of b-boy culture, so it's great to slap on a backwards cap, wife-beater, and pull one pant leg up (either side!). The strangest selection has to be skin color, as it uses the same palette as the clothing. Your guy can really bleed the color of his crew.
Red Bull BC One just needs to hook the player within that same universe of devotion, but its simplistic gameplay blocks the connection. Sure, if I refrain from moving the stylus, my tiny dancer will passively bob to a generic beat, a rhythm that barely registers since it's not central to the task. And when I complete a shape, his silhouette in the background pulls off some random move in sync with his full figure up on the top screen. But I don't see how my triangles, pentagons, and dodecahedrons specifically translate into coin drops, belly swims, or airchairs. When the replay rolls, it's a loose collection of moves spliced together, not a cohesive routine for which I feel responsible. Upgrade the game's execution in every area, and this underlying flaw still kills this license.
Freelance review by Benjamin Woodhouse (October 06, 2008)
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