Developer: Blitz Games
Release Date: October 13, 2008
Very few video games for children turn out to be enjoyable pieces of work, and the possibility of a game being good decreases when it's based on a popular license. When that licensed game is specifically intended for girls, the possibility decreases even further. This doesn't stop developers from trying, though, since there is certainly a market for the products. To that end, THQ and Blitz Games have created Bratz: Girlz Really Rock, which cashes in one of the most popular brands for girls since Barbie. While the title is pretty ambitious, it isn't necessarily the best choice for a young girl who's looking for a fun video game.
Bratz: Girlz Really Rock is based on the DVD movie of the same name. As the Bratz crew, you're spending the summer at a talent camp made to hone your musical and fashion design skills. At the camp, you discover that there will be a talent show at the end of camp, and the winner will star in her very own movie. With such a big prize on the line, your job is to make sure that the Bratz win the competition and get the movie deal.
When you start up the title, you get a skydiving mini-game that is pretty similar to the one found in Pilotwings. After this, however, your game primarily consists of learning new dances and new instrument pieces for songs. If you want to do something else, you can go to the fashion parts of the camp to get new wardrobes and hairstyles for your Bratz characters. If you get tired of this, you can partake in some mini-golf. There are five courses in all, and playing through all 18 holes of one course unlocks the rest, complete with different hazards and themes.
As the game title indicates, Bratz: Girlz Really Rock is primarily a rhythm and music game. Whether you're dancing or playing any of the available instruments, the interface is exactly the same. In the center is a target; icons scroll from right to left, and your job is to hit them as close to the target area as possible. The icons consist of the A button, B button, and a combination of the A and B buttons. There is no other difficulty level in the game, so this gets very old quickly since the patterns aren't too difficult to hit correctly. Without much challenge coming from this portion, players will have to depend on the other segments to make it feel like they're doing something other than just going through the paces.
Luckily, the other activities are much more fun than the rhythm ones. The mini-golf courses are fairly good and provide a substantial amount of challenge, even if the idea of mini-golfing at camp seems a bit out of place. The only drawback is that the game is only good for two players, but there is enough enjoyment to make people want to play it over and over again. The same goes for the skydiving segments, though the limitation is that there's only one stage of rings to pass through for a high score, deflating any sense of challenge once you master it. Finally, the fashion segments are perfect for the license used. Players can easily design any hairstyle or outfits they want and have any of the Bratz characters wear them immediately. This is probably the section where players will spend most of their time due to the ease of use and customization.
The controls for Bratz: Girlz Really Rock seem to vary wildly, depending on what you're playing. For the fashion portions, the controls are pretty easy to deal with since the bulk of it is pointing and clicking on objects. For the musical portions, the controls are also manageable because all you're doing is hitting two different buttons. Despite some of the icons presented during the dance sequences, moving the Wiimote doesn't seem to do anything in terms of passing or failing the event or earning bonus points, so those can be omitted altogether.
While those examples represent the good part of the control scheme, the rest of the mini-games show off the pitfalls. Moving around camp requires you to hold down the A button and point in a particular direction. This is all well and good, except that the Wiimote is too sensitive, causing your character to walk in a zigzag pattern instead of a straight line. This could have been resolved by simply using the analog stick on the Nunchuk, but since the option isn't there, players will have to slog through this method.
Skydiving also suffers from the sensitivity problem since it becomes pretty difficult to pinpoint exactly where you want to be in order to pass through the smoke rings to score bonus points. Finally, the mini-golf controls are more complicated than they need to be. Instead of controlling like the golf game in Wii Sports, the title asks you to pull back on the controller and hold either the A button as you swing forward for a regular shot or the B button during the forward motion for a chip shot. Considering that this is a game intended for young girls, using the familiar Wii Sports control method would have been a better idea. Instead, you'll have a bunch of frustrating rounds before you fully understand the game mechanics, and for a title that aims to be casual, this isn't the type of experience you would want.
The graphics in Bratz: Girlz Really Rock are fairly good, which is paramount for a licensed title. Even though the game is only in 480i, the character models look pretty nice. The environments match the film well, so even though the movie wasn't anything special, the game manages to represent it faithfully. The mini-golf courses end up being very colorful, and the skydiving sequence isn't bad either. This doesn't mean that everything is great, though. While it was stated before that the character models are good, the hair has some real bad clipping issues. Lots of characters have long hair, so you'll see the hair go through arms and clothes more often than you'd like. Also, while traversing the campgrounds, you'll occasionally encounter game pauses. They don't last very long, but it is very noticeable considering how little is occurring in the background.
The title's sound is rather good. All of the voices from the movie are present in Girlz Really Rock and played by the exact same voice talent instead of imitators. Their delivery is the same as what was found in the movie, making it an all-around authentic experience. The sound effects are fine, but considering what you get to do in the game, the devs really didn't have any chances of messing that up. The music, like the voices, comes from the movie. Your cell phone acts like your personal music player as it plays all of the memorable songs from the film. The only drawback to this is that because the song selection is so limited, you'll hear the same music repeat fairly quickly and often. The only time you won't mind this is when you get the ringtone of the song coming through your Wiimote speaker when you get an alert, a feature that other developers should take note of since it plays nicely in this game. If you choose not to let the cell phone play anything, however, all you get is the sound of nature accompanying you through the title.
It's unfortunate that Bratz: Girlz Really Rock for the Wii is quite disappointing. There are some fairly good ideas in place, and the game premise is pretty well done. However, the various technical issues and the lack of any real difficulty make the game real boring real fast. For the Bratz fan, this title is a rental at best. All other gamers should steer clear of this one.