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Bratz: Forever Diamondz Review

Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ
Release Date: September 18, 2006 Also On: GBA

For reasons unknown to me, there are game companies out there that think that they can convince girls to play video games if they make games based on things that girls like to do. To that end, THQ has released Bratz: Forever Diamondz on the DS to coincide with the release of the DVD by the same name. But is it a game worth playing, or just another notch in the thus-far futile exercise of trying to get girls interested in video games in large numbers? Read on to find out.

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Graphically, Bratz is decent, although not spectacular. The backgrounds are nice, if not particularly detailed, although the characters do not look particularly impressive. At least the characters can be told apart easily, although, in most cases it makes little difference which character you’re using. So, overall, the graphics are enough to get the job done, but they certainly won’t be winning any awards for best graphics either.

So far as sound goes, I can’t say I’m very impressed. The DS version uses many of the same musical themes as the GBA version, which probably means that both versions drew on the DVD for musical inspiration. The music is somewhat catchy though, and doesn’t loop so often as to drive you insane. Also, each pet has its own trademark noise, and they are appropriate to the animal at hand. Unfortunately, particularly when the pet is playing, it will make that noise over and over, which does get old fast.

Add to this that there are many areas in the game in which there is no music (playing with the pets and during cutscenes, for example), and you have a somewhat dull sound experience. The problem of no music during cutscenes only enhances the emptiness that is felt from the cutscenes using text instead of voice acting. Needless to say, the sound could have been far better than it was.

The gameplay in this version of the game is likewise simplified from the GBA version. None of the exploratory elements of the GBA version made it to this one. Instead, you use the touch screen to navigate around whatever town you happen to be in. This makes this game a rapid succession of mini-games broken up only by occasional practice sessions in which you can master the elements of some of the mini-games before attempting them. This makes the game seem more disjointed than the GBA version, at least in my opinion.

On the bright side, the mini-games do a reasonably good job of taking advantage of the DS hardware. This, however, can be either a good or a bad thing. My roommate thought I was going insane when I began talking to the game system for a mini-game or practice session that required the use of the microphone, but, especially when you are in quiet environments, the game understands voice commands surprisingly well.

Many of the mini-games require you to use the touch-screen as well, whether it’s moving your stylus left or right to guide a character’s movements or drawing a particular shape to perform a particular maneuver, as well as other things. Granted, these are all things that have been seen already, but they are implemented well in this game. The game does a good job of telling you exactly what you’re trying to do in a mini-game before you begin and outlining the controls for it, and the mini-games are somewhat varied also.

I should say one other thing. This game is definitely aimed at girls. When you are in the hub area, you can access a wardrobe to change what the characters are wearing or a makeup stand to put makeup on your character, things that guys couldn’t care less about, but that might keep a young girl entertained for a while. Of course, part of changing what you’re wearing revolves around using the money you earn in the mini-games to buy new outfits, another girlish element to the game, as the changes that take place are purely cosmetic. Luckily, these options aren’t required in the game, but I would give the opinion that the girlishness of this game is too pervasive for most guys to be able to ignore it.

Bratz: Forever Diamondz is a fairly short game, clocking in at only a couple hours if you know what you’re doing. Some of the mini-games may be slightly difficult for newcomers to gaming, although there is little if anything that an experienced gamer couldn’t handle. Once you’re done, you can go back and play the mini-games at your leisure through a mini-games option, and some of them can even be played multiplayer through single-card download play (although, since I don’t know anybody else with a DS, I don’t know which ones), but this adds little to the replay value.

Personally, despite the pretty good implementation of the DS hardware for the mini-games, I would recommend that you stay away from this game since there are better mini-game compilations out there. If you are a hardcore Bratz fan, you might find some entertainment value here, but I would sooner recommend the GBA version than this one since I found it more entertaining.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.5
Written by Martin Review Guide