Release Date: February 25, 2008
I've had the chance to play more than enough Bratz titles in the past year or so, and I've got to say that most of them are pretty bad, at least from my standpoint. Even if I try to put myself in the shoes of the intended audience, which I will admit is quite a challenge, the basic idea of fun is still pretty lost on me. Most of these titles feature a series of fashion-related tasks, usually involving fetch quests for different characters, or collecting a number of items, and a number of other boring game mechanics that just don't amount to much in the long run.
Even though I should know better, I was hoping that Bratz: Super Babyz could be a little different from the other titles I'd already played. I figured that at best, it would play like any other action-oriented superhero title, albeit with deformed fashion babies (I hate to use the "Z"), but the end result of this title is pretty much identical to the others. While there are a few different elements to make it stand out from the other Bratz titles, it's hardly enough to get enthused about.
From what I understand, the game actually follows the plot of a DVD movie that was released at around the same time. I'm hoping that the DVD makes more sense than the plot of the game, which features a number of slightly off-the-wall encounters and ideas that just don't sell themselves well within the game. In the end, the plot doesn't seem to matter all that much anyway, since the title is basically a series of mini-games, collect-a-thons, and dress up scenarios.
Super Babyz works in a similar fashion to other Bratz games in how the overworld is constructed. When the game begins, you're able to manipulate your character through a small 3-D world, which you can explore to talk to various people, visit a couple of different locations, and take on various tasks. This is almost the exact same setup as every single Bratz title I've played to date, and horribly repetitive after having just played another Bratz DS title in the past week. The faults of these titles really start to stand out after you've played a couple of them back to back, so while I was a bit easier on the issues I had with Girlz Really Rock, the fact that Super Babyz plays almost exactly the same but with different backdrops and characters is a huge issue with me.
Keep in mind, though, for those of you with kids, that while I do find the gameplay to be dull and uninspired regardless of your age group, this is a very young gamer-friendly title. The missions, side-quests, and other tasks that you can take on are all easy to understand, and for the most part, the controls are equally easy. There's some limited touch-screen interaction, and you'll also make use of the d-pad and face buttons on the DS. Most quests have you walking from different spots, picking up an item, and walking back, so there's not much involvement needed, and if you want to sit your kid down with a game for a little while, then she won't have any real issues figuring out what's going on. Also, the content is pretty inoffensive stuff, which I'm sure will appeal to most parents.
However, if you're expecting to get to see some souped-up segments in the form of superhero powers with Bratz, then prepare to be pretty disappointed because the "superhero" aspect of the Bratz Babyz is pretty much a lost cause here. Most of the time, you're just walking around, with nothing in the way of flying, smashing, gamma rays, web-slinging, or any other superhero ability that you might be able to think of. Every so often, you're given a task or mini-game that will make use of a power or ability, but for the most part, everything you partake in is pretty mundane and ordinary. There are a few of the mini-game activities that are actually fun to play, but they're just easy, and thankfully quick, activities that fill up the game.
The design/fashion/dress up aspect isn't as fleshed out here as it has been in previous titles, and I'm not sure if that's due to the strict use of the Babyz as opposed to the regular Bratz figures. There are some limited things you can do with clothing and design, but you'll quickly notice that the options are all pretty limited in scope, and outside of some palette swaps and unlockables, there isn't much to see here or mess around with for long.
Visually, Bratz Babyz isn't entirely impressive, but for the most part, it works well enough. You can easily make out your character on the screen, and the character models don't look bad at all, even if they're a little flat for 3-D characters and don't have a whole lot of detail. The environments, on the other hand, are all pretty bland and definitely lack much attention to detail. It's easy to tell the difference from one location to the next, though, so for the undiscerning gamer, it won't end up being that big of a deal in the long run.
The title's soundtrack is filled with light, pop-style tunes that don't really seem to be tied to anything other than keeping the mood upbeat. I'd assume that some tracks were taken from the DVD movie, but having not seen that, I can't say exactly what it resembles. It's not entirely bad, though, and I didn't mind the mindless jingles that played through the entire game.
For the big fans of the toy line and tie-ins, there are quite a few little clips shown from the movie, and they play fairly well for DS compressed video. Younger gamers will most likely appreciate these clips being included over others, and I'm sure it pays to be able to recognize who's who and what's going on and so on.
While certain aspects of Bratz: Super Babyz work well enough to make it playable for fans, it's still not a game that I could suggest to anyone. The actual game parts are pretty uninspired, boring, and nothing that's going to retain the attention of anyone, regardless of age, for very long. If you really need to pick up a licensed title or two for the children in your life, there are quite a few out there that are actually decent. Unfortunately, Bratz: Super Babyz isn't one of them.