THE COM­EDY BOX

EDGE - - PLAY -

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.

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