After a failed stint as an intern for the hip fashion magazine “Your Thing,” Jade and her friends — fellow pack members Cloe, Sasha, and Yasmin — decide to found a magazine of their own: “Bratz.” Bratz: Rock Angelz follows the Bratz gang around the world as they search for the hottest scoops on the latest fashion trends. Players experience the life of a Rock Angel vicariously through the Bratz team as they travel to places such as London and Paris.
First, remember that you are reading a review on the GBA version of the game. There isn’t a whole lot of animation to speak of, and what little exists isn’t anything to write home about. The girls do have an amusing swaying strut to their gait that I suppose would be a sashay if more detail could be squeezed into limited pixel dimensions. However, I was actually quite impressed with the image quality of the freeze-frame cutscenes, but the rest of the static images for the background environment is pretty bland.
Being mindful of the preteen girls that are the intended target audience for the game, I think that the minimalistic graphics approach to the RPG-lite game styling helps to bring more focus on a couple of the key aspects of the game: Fashion accessorizing and interior decoration. There are dozens of clothes, accessories, and hairstyles that can be obtained throughout the game, and these can be mixed-and-matched for each girl in the game to design hundreds of unique looks and outfits. Several different pieces of furniture can also be purchased and used to decorate the Bratz offices around the world. It is unfortunate that the details of each outfit don’t stand out more clearly.
Something that seriously bugged me in the game is that the Bratz Boys have this little victory dance cheer animation that looks disturbingly like they are performing pelvic thrusts. Maybe they really do teach girls what boys have on their mind all the time while they’re still young.
The music is pretty simplistic, but I caught myself a couple of times after I finished playing with a couple of the game’s little dittys stuck in my head. This speaks well of the tunes’ catchiness, and they seemed to fit in well with the rest of the game so as to not detract from it during gameplay. The sound effects in the game are pretty basic as well, however they don’t offer anything to raise the game above mediocrity.
The control schemes are at a very basic level and easy to learn. There isn’t much more than controls for movement and a talk/action button in regular gameplay. The minigames use more buttons, but they are still quite simple. However, I actually found myself at times becoming rather frustrated with the unresponsiveness of the controls in the game, especially with a number of the minigames. Movement control seemed to have a palpable delay at times that made mini-games more of a chore than something enjoyable.
I also found several instances where the zone boundaries that allowed characters to move from one area into a new adjacent area didn’t always detect collision properly. There were times when I had to wander in circles several times at a zone point to trigger the exit to take me to the next screen. It wasn’t a consistent problem, but it occurred with enough frequency to be bothersome.
At its core, Bratz: Rock Angelz is a very simple RPG-type game. Anyone with any prior game experience will find this part of the game extremely trivial and boring. Newcomers to gaming may find it novel and easy to get into since it has a very tiny learning curve, but I don’t expect this kind of game play to be able to hold one’s attention for very long. The Bratz’ antics are expectedly inane, but more appropriately they serve no real purpose and offer little redeeming value, so I don’t see it being used as a teaching tool. Some elements in the game, such as the “Posh Teriorz” fashion store offers little to help its case. It may offer a source of gender empowerment by portraying girls who are able to accomplish what they set their mind on, but the Bratz themselves aren’t exactly the best role models either.
There’s obviously no combat, unless you consider sweeping to be combat against dirt, interior decoration to be combat against blandness, and accessorizing to be combat against fashion travesties. Instead, the goals for each chapter are little mission-based tasks and minigames. The aspect of the game most likely to retain its player base are the minigames. Once you’ve played a minigame in-game, it becomes available to play from the main menu. After a couple of hours, enough minigames should be unlocked that one could just play those instead of having to slog through an otherwise droll game. However, even the minigames can grow tiresome after only a short while.
Some of the game play can only be advanced by collecting enough bling-bling (yes, they actually call it that) to buy materials that satisfy specific task goals. The only way to earn bling-bling is through playing the minigames over and over again. This is when minigames can become tiresome. There’s little challenge to the minigames, but they are time consuming, and the payouts aren’t very high. This can really chew away at anything resembling interest in the game before long.
I found it extremely difficult to sit through the story mode of the game myself, so I compared my notes with those of 8-year old Anna, to whom the game is more appropriately targeted for. She concurred that the story was mostly boring, and that she would rather just play the mini-games. Thanks, Anna! It’s good to know that I can adopt a similar mindset to a little girl if I wanted to. Er, not that I would ever want to. I mean, that’s a really disturbing thought. It never crossed my mind! Really! I… I’m just burying myself deeper, aren’t I?
If the story isn’t compelling enough to keep the attention of people within its target market, I have to believe that it would have been better if the story were secondary to the minigames, instead of the other way around. At least the minigames provide some replayability value to the product.
Bratz: Rock Angelz is not a terrible game, but I fail to see its appeal and value. At least the minigames make it worth playing through the story mode for a couple of hours. I would not recommend this game to anyone who is even a casual gamer unless they are already a fan of the Bratz franchise. I strongly doubt this game’s ability to bring in a new market.