Red Bull BC One
A sad, startling revelation came to me the other day. I’ve become that guy. You know, the fellow who’s still trying to be hip but has absolutely no clue about the current pop culture? The kind of person that spouts off outdated slang to his younger friends and ends up coming off like an idiot? Yeah, that guy. This stunning bout of self-awareness was caused by one thing: Red Bull BC One. What kind of name is that for a game? The back of the box gives only a few clues; it states that you can compete in the titular tournaments and “execute your b-boy moves by completing fast paced puzzles and mini games.” The little images of geometrical drawings didn’t help much, either. Well, that’s all fine and dandy. But that left a what might be a rather stupid question:
What the Hell is a b-boy?!
Blissful ignorance, indeed. Apparently, Red Bull BC One is based on a series of real-life break dancing tournaments held all over the world. The b-boys (aka the competitors) get to show off their slick moves in performances in front of a panel of judges and move up in the rankings based on their scores. This game takes the basic premise of the actual tournaments and changes it into a gauntlet-styled challenge. You’ll be able to create your own b-boy; the character designs options allow you to tweak everything from the guy’s body size to the kinds and colors of clothes he wears and hairstyle he sports. Don’t hope for anything too mind-blowing, though; the in-game design looks like something directly ripped from an Ipod poster. You might be able to see the contours of the b-boy’s face, but you’ll never get to see any eyes, mouth, or anything else that remotely resembles detail. While such an artistic choice could be considered stylish or trendy, the presentation just comes off as lazy. The DS is capable of presenting far more than a bunch of blocky dancing figurines.
The games tries to make up for it by placing emphasis on the touch screen. In order to get your b-boy to move during his turn, you’ll have to connect the colored dots that appear onscreen. It doesn’t matter what order you connect them, just as long as they’re the same color and you can create shapes with them. The more patterns you create, the more stunts your character will pull, and the higher your score will be. Such an emphasis on creating shapes for the sake of the higher score is also a danger, though. If you rush through the challenge and accidentally hit a differently colored dot or accidentally overlap your lines, you’ll lose one of three second chances before getting tossed out of the contest. It can be nerve-wracking when you’re faced with an abysmally short time limit and tons of dots scattered in seemingly random places. While puzzle enthusiasts might get a kick out of the challenge, being eliminated for just a few slight screw-ups after enduring a slew of hard-earned combos. While it’s fast-paced, it’s not particularly fun.
It’s not like you need to rush, either; the game is really quite easy to beat. Regardless of what the brief tutorial movie will tell you, drawing every onscreen shape isn’t necessary for you to win. Sure, you might gloat about your high score (assuming you can actually find someone else who owns this and is willing to indulge in the multiplayer), but there’s no need for you to overexert yourself. As long as you get the most basic shapes up on the screen without screwing up somehow, you’ll never have to worry about your b-boy getting served. Besides, after having to endure the cringe-worthy cutscenes before and after each bout, you’ll never want to screw up and replay again. Watching the b-boys spout lines like, “You’re already history!” and “I’ll show you the future!” makes one wonder if that’s how their real counterparts actually speak. Perhaps it’s admirable that the game designers tried to add a touch of realism by adding trash talk to their faceless characters, but it’s a pretty half-hearted attempt.
Assuming that you’re willing to endure everything the game throws at you, you’ll be just rewarded with a handful of unlockables and a couple of extra gameplay modes. Getting new outfits can be nice (even if they do lack detail), and the character customization options are decent. If the worldwide career mode is getting on your nerves (which is in itself an inevitability), the Free Mode allows you to practice on any previously beaten tournament challenges. However, the only real reason you’ll ever come back to play Red Bull BC One has nothing to do with the dancing; instead, you might get hooked on the mini games. These little touch screen challenges pop up in the middle of your routines, but they can be unlocked and played separately as well. There’s nothing too original here; some games have you connect the dots to make the outline of a b-boy, while others have you use the stylus to spin a disc or scribble into a pre-rendered image for no reason whatsoever. While none of these are particularly fun or challenging, they offer a brief distraction from the regular gameplay.
The term ‘regular gameplay’ ought to be taken with a grain of salt, though. Honestly. Playing connect-the-dots to make a breakdancer move onscreen? Why, of all things, did they choose to use connect-the-dots? This is a case of how a game designer tries to force the creation of a game based on the touch screen mechanics. The results are mediocre at best. Yes, it’s a straightforward concept and fairly easy to pick up. But the other buttons could have been used to command the b-boy, leaving the stylus for the mini games and other potential fun. This could have been so much deeper and challenging had the developers decided to use the full extent of the DS’s control capabilities. Instead, you’re just left with an Ipod commercial reject being controlled by whatever shapes you decide to draw. It just feels as if this game could have been so much more with a few redesigns.
Or maybe I could be wrong. Maybe you like the concept of controlling your very own breakdancer with little more than a few jabs of your stylus. Perhaps you’re a fan of the actual competition and genuinely want to play a game adaptation of it. Good for you. But for the rest of you that have absolutely no interest in this title whatsoever, don’t bother. The game is nothing more than a poorly veiled series of connect-the-dot challenges. Yes, it can be challenging getting all-time high scores, but you won’t have to exert much effort to beat what’s required of you. While the touch screen gameplay works well enough, it takes away from any potential depth that could have been offered. The bland mini games and art style make the overall presentation disjointed and cheaply made. So do yourself a favor and skip it. Instead, go watch You Got Served or some other generic dance-based flick; it’s bound to be more entertaining than this.