Bury the Shovelware: Bratz Ponyz 2

After a few controversial picks, I've decided to take the edge off and pick on an easy target. After all, doesn't picking on the weak make us all feel a little better? So don't worry about today: we've got not one but TWO S's replaced with Z's!


Instead of talking about the developer and publisher, let's just take a long look at the title. It's in three parts. First: "Bratz," a franchise which has been criticized locally for allegedly attempting to sell sex to children. Abroad, things are even worse: "On December 21, 2006, the National Labor Committee announced that the factory workers in China, who make Bratz dolls, labor for 94.5 hours a week, while the factory pays only $0.515 an hour, $4.13 a day. The per doll amount is $0.17, much less than the Bratz dolls actually cost (from $20 to $40)." (Wikipedia).

And most important of all, let's not forget the last letter of the first word, a disgusting trait also shared with the second word: "Ponyz." When did the letter "S" become uncool? Did he totally say ohmigod and she was all like "right?" Or did Z suddenly become incredibly popular? Did Z come skateboarding through space while wearing sunglasses and playing a hot pink electric guitar? That's still cool, right?

Finally, we have the number 2 ... as if there were so many unanswered questions at the end of Bratz Ponyz 1.

The Critics Said ...

Uhh ... nothing, apparently.

Rap Sheet

  • AHHH! The severe overload of pink is burning my retinas.

  • I'm prompted to select a pony ... err, one of the "ponyz." Hmm, ponyz number 2 and ponyz number 4 look identical. Couldn't they have just swapped another color directly off of a Barbie box?

  • Oh dear. My ponyz' name is "Brynesse." I consider changing the name to avoid the pungent stench of over-cuteness, but when I realize that the next ponyz is named "Carmelina," my first selection doesn't seem too bad. Sorry if there are any Carmelinas out there ... sorry that your name is "Carmelina." Hmm, Facebook is telling me that there are over 500 Carmelinas. Maybe I'd better lay off the Carmelinas.

  • Uggh ... stylus-based 2D movement. It's amazing when done right, but awkward and sluggish when poorly implemented. Guess what we've got here?

  • I tap on the door of a building, assuming it will take me inside. Instead, a box pops up: "Would you like to go inside this building?" No, my hobby is to bang my head into doors. I'm a semi-professional, really. In case you couldn't tell, unnecessary prompts are one of my pet peeves in gaming. It's good to double-check before ending a game or making a drastic and irreversible move. It's not necessary for entering buildings.

  • Ohh, noooooo ... more non-dance mat DDR-style gameplay. You know, tapping in rhythm. It was at least an interesting design choice in Superman Returns. Here, however, it's so boring that I missed a few because I started thinking about a great burrito that I had for lunch. They should put that right on the box: "Bratz Ponyz 2: So boring that you'll think about your lunch while you're playing!"

  • "You've got great rhythem!" Wow, was the spellchecker too busy working on Imagine: Hamsterz Babiez 7? I know that I'm prone to many grammatical and spelling errors, but I imagine my budget is miniscule compared to what was allocated for this game.

Silver Lining / Our Deduction

In case you can't tell, I'm having a lot of fun flogging this game. But I know that for every word I've written, there's a group of tweens who absolutely adore this game. And who am I to deprive them of that joy?

Our tastes change as we get older, both buds and for stimulation. Certainly you've rediscovered a cartoon that you cherished as a young child but simply does not hold your attention today. Nostalgia can ring us in, but there's nothing that can produce true joy and passion where there is none. Similarly, why should one strive to cut down a game that knows its intended audience very well? There's a very low probability that someone will buy this game expecting something different than what they receive.

So perhaps we're on the brink of a new facet of shovelware: fallacy. The "1000 games in one"-type shovelware we discussed last week often portray the illusion of having many unique and solid games, yet upon purchasing, one would discover that the games are largely identical, severely flawed, and usually both. That's borderline false advertising, and that's something consumers should be upset about.

So with a lack of any misrepresentation, I feel that determining whether or not Bratz Ponyz 2 is shovelware is comparable to Barack Obama having a press conference where he announces that his first act as president will not be the purchase of the new Guns N' Roses album. It's kind of like "and your point is ...?"

In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.