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Bakushow

Tonight’s the night. Weeks of careful preparation and overindulgent spending finish here. You’ve got the music, alcohol, and even the pay-per-view boxing on stand-by. It’s time to see just how popular you are. Over one hundred invites sent, you wait cautiously by the front door that mutters discontent at its balloon covered surface, echoing the naivety of a pimple stricken teenager. Surely someone will turn up? You’ve been waiting to play this game for days; don’t blow it now. Sadly, it seems you’re going to miss out. Wait, Bakushow’s here now; he’s the over-excited midget in the corner by the buffet. Can you see him drinking the disgustingly warm beer you left out? No? He’s gone. You shouldn’t be surprised; the appearance of this potential disaster will be as brief as the Amir Khan fight you needlessly splashed out on earlier.

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The decision to release a multiplayer only quiz title for the DS is something that will lead many gamers to question the developer’s sanity. Although ideal for parties or small gatherings, the opportunity for the large majority to get a game of Bakushow together may be too small to even consider.

Fortunately, Bakushow’s credentials begin to look sharper when you consider the conditions it was made in. Commonly referred to as the over-cited LOL acronym in Japan, this title was produced through love of the quiz genre by a group of freelance game developers. Without pay, it’s fair to congratulate the hard-working staff on creating a simplistic and easily accessible title through their passion for the medium.

Regrettably, no matter how much a creator loves the product he has nurtured, it doesn’t mean others are going to feel the same. On a handheld that is largely home to single player epics or quick blast gameplay, how does this brainchild fair?

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To put it plainly, Bakushow doesn’t feel like a complete game. The premise couldn’t be any simpler; create a question, set a time limit, pose it to your opponents, and then wait to vote on the best answers. Players will take it in turns at writing their own question; meaning imagination is key to ensuring a smooth experience. Sure, it’s fun in the beginning as you can literally create any question you want on the bottom screen provided; it really is up to you and your stylus, without any hints or structure at all. The problem that quickly presents itself is that you have to invent every single challenge in order to play, something that may be seen as a huge loss on the developer’s part.

A single player mode is vital to the success of a title like Bakushow, as many people want something to quickly dip in and out of during their working day. Even more important is that the likelihood most gamers can find a group of people to play with when they desire is almost impossible. It’s hugely surprising that the developers didn’t programme a number of questions ready to use in a single or multiplayer mode, as even a few hundred conundrums could liven up the proceedings and add longevity to the game.

A creative touch is that the quizmaster has control over which answers get revealed and when. This adds to the tension in tight-knit affairs, and also brings about a number of laughs as you bellow at each other’s wacky, wonderful, and often damn right stupid creations. By tapping on the lower screen, players can enlarge their friends’ shortcomings onto the top, meaning every last detail can be highlighted for debate, and can effect where you want to put each of your three votes. Rest assured, at the end of each round you can see who has won, meaning arguments are going to be re-visited once every few minutes.

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So, other than this, what else does Bakushow have to entice us away from our hard-earned cash? Disappointingly, absolutely nothing. All that this title offers, apart from a blank canvas to create questions on, is the chance to squash lifeless enemies as you wait for the quizmaster to produce their problem. This is hardly inspiring, as after one minute of trying to tap each rushing adversary on the head you’ll want to give up. It’s fair to say that Bakushow lacks a final idea that makes it totally worthwhile; something that is hugely unsatisfactory, especially as the design fuelling the game does have potential to be a winner on this form of console.

Bakushow isn’t a terrible game by any means. With a little more development and the guidance from a handful of well-established creative minds, this could certainly turn out to be a franchise of great strength. Unfortunately, the “multiplayer only” tag is sure to put many off from considering the purchase at the current time. Hopefully now this title will gain some decent funding and can return stronger in a year or two. There’s definitely room for a fully finished version of a game that is sure to divide gamers’ opinions everywhere. For a title that promotes “intelligence”, “imagination” and “memory”, it’s hideously ironic that the end product results in brainless, uninspired and instantly forgettable smatters of fun.

4 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in September 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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