Bratz Super Babyz
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-04-02 Nintendo DS Platform E (Everyone) THQ / MGA Entertainment, Inc.

As a kid, you're always told to never judge a book by its cover; that you need to actually experience something before you form an opinion on it. For the most part, I have followed this motto, so I was shocked when I found myself apprehensive about playing the newest game in the Bratz universe, Bratz Super Babyz. My skepticism boils down to my knowledge of the Bratz world, and how much of an emphasis there is on looking good no matter what the cost; however, after being immersed in the Bratz Empire, I am happy to say that the experience was far less traumatizing than I initially feared.

Based on the newest movie in the franchise, Bratz Super Babyz follows the four main Babyz: Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, and Jade as they are transformed into heroes and must use their new found super powers to help the people of Stylesville by completing simple tasks like rescuing pets and finding lost belongings. Your ultimate challenge however will be to stop the threat of alien invasion by defeating various creatures from outer space.

Being based on a movie, it would of course be advantageous to have seen the film before playing the game, but it is not impossible to play it without knowing about the movie. However, the storyline is very jumpy and fragmented throughout, being that the game is so short, so an element of confusion in spots is almost impossible to avoid.

Gameplay is a mix of old level-based adventure titles and mini-games. Each level lets you play as a different Bratz Baby. At first, you play without any special powers, and are confined to a small neighborhood and theme park rescuing animals among other similar tasks. However, once you are transformed into Super Babyz (in a process that isn't quite clear), you are given special abilities like Wind Breath and Super Shout (which are performed using the DS's mic), along with the ability to fly, all of which help you take on the alien horde.

As you progress through the levels, the basic tasks do become a bit repetitive, but the mini-games, such as balloon catch and bean bag toss all require the use of the stylus and offer enough challenge, especially for younger children, to keep the game from being boring. There is also an added challenge of finding each of the five diamonds placed throughout every level that gives players something else to concentrate on.

After finding enough diamonds, you gain access to playing the title's various mini-games while not in adventure mode. In this way, you can keep track of your high scores and later challenge friends via Wi-Fi to see who the best at each task really is.

When going into any Bratz game, I am always fearful that there will be a large focus on makeup and clothing. I've seen many examples in Bratz books where each character is telling girls what to wear to look cool or to be liked, and I have to admit that I was fearful the game would take the same path. For the most part, however, this is not the case. In fact, the only time you even get to interact directly with the appearance of your Bratz is through an entirely optional mini-game accessible only through the main menu. That is, you are never forced to dress up your Bratz, but are given the option to do so if you so choose.

While the above is a great positive, the general appearance of the Bratz throughout the rest of the game is anything but. While the gameplay itself is wholesome enough, your Bratz outfits' transform from cute to entirely trashy very early on in the game. You start the game wearing cute footy pajamas, and end the game wearing tight spandex tube tops and what looks to be bikini bottoms.

Sure, parents are going to be able to understand the negative imagery presented here, but the almost subliminal message being relayed to little girls (you must dress like a slut to look pretty and be powerful) is unavoidable. However, as long as parents take an active role with their children who play this game, it would be easy to explain that super heroes are allowed to dress in ways that normal humans just shouldn't.

Getting off of my soapbox, the rest of the game's appearance does stand in a more positive light. Clipping is a bit of an issue, and there is nothing phenomenal about the graphics here, but the bright colors of flowers and designs on the walls are neat enough.

Even better is the sound department. The music here is a surprisingly fun mix of rock and pop instrumental tunes and real music taken straight from the movie. Furthermore, these songs from the film can be listened to at any time once they are unlocked by collecting a certain number of diamonds. Additionally, there are three clips from the film itself also accessible via the extras menu.

All in all, Bratz Super Babyz is (for the most part) a wholesome game perfect for little girls who want to interact with their favorite dolls from the real world. With aliens shaped like potatoes and special powers that require direct interaction from players, the game offers enough humor and interactivity to draw in every little girl who has ever dreamed of being a superhero, and even those just looking for an amusing way to pass some time.

Special thanks to THQ for providing a copy of this title.