THE COMEDY BOX
The in-game announcer pulls quotes from films of days gone by (“Nobody puts baby in the corner”; “Welcome to the party, pal”; weirdly, “Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs Robinson?”). In the brief singleplayer mode, pre-match banter sees cows, coffee cups and streaky bacon talking trash. The game’s greatest gag comes when an online opponent pulls the plug in a bid to avoid a heavy loss. We shan’t spoil it, but it’s more of IDARB’s achingly contemporary spin on old ideas.
With its sparse moveset – double-jump, shoot, pass and steal – and zippy movement, IDARB harks back to games like Speedball 2 and Sensible Soccer, and the Amiga stylings extend well beyond the mechanics. It’s a love letter to the sprite sheet, with scores of character models drawn from the videogame archetypes of history, but also the modern day. Studios like Harmonix and Double Fine have teams; pick Team Capy to take the cast of Super Time Force into battle. The announcer, meanwhile, offers faux-digitised, appropriately dated pop culture quotes (see ‘The comedy box’).
IDARB is an old game with new ideas, devised by a man who has been making games since the Game Boy era but is fascinated by the power of modern social media. But it is, ultimately, a young man’s game. It’s so fast and so chaotic that it’s often hard to pick yourself out on screen, even before the hashbombs make their presence felt. Players and ball ping about the place at such a terrifying lick that success often feels more like a result of luck than player judgement. What is hard to parse in an offline setting is frequently unplayable online. Games of this pace are ruined by even the tiniest trace of latency, and IDARB’s trace is significant.
As meta-commentary on social media’s direct line between developer and player, IDARB is a fine concept piece. As a game, it’s much like Twitter itself – raucous and ridiculous, funny but infuriating.