When it comes to brands that abuse the "right" to substitute the letter Z for the letter S, you'll generally find me running in the opposite direction, my daughter in tow. For some reason, though (I blame commercials -- everything in life can be blamed on commercials), she's latched onto these bobble-headed fashionistas called Bratz. As you can only guess, I find them rather off-putting due to the image that they promote to their pre-teen audience, and I was reluctant to let them into my house in any form. However, after giving Bratz: Rock Angelz a spin, I found that the game as well as the franchise could be worse.
... but it could be better. Much, much better.
The game starts out with a decent mini-movie that, after seeing the angular in-game models, could only have come from the recent straight-to-video movie of the same title. In it, it shows that Cleo had an internship with some corporate music magazine, but ended up being fired because they wanted her to do too much with too little time. Now, while in the real world, her friends would probably take her aside and tell her she wasn't hacking it, her cadre of multi-cultural friends somehow acquire both the office space in a high-rise and the means to renovate it so as to run a magazine there. Realistic? No. An easy way to let little girls know that their dreams can come true? Why not?
Visually, the game's quite bland. The girls look very plastic, which is actually fitting considering that they're from a doll franchise. It's really no excuse, though, because the game looks rather ragged for something so late in the Gamecube's life-cycle. When it comes to the gameplay, there are really only two things you end up doing in the course of the game. The tasks that you have to complete to publish issues of the magazine are simple but mundane, and sooner or later gamers will find themselves just doing as little as possible to advance the weak story. The only other thing left to do is to run around grabbing Blingz to buy new... well, everything for your characters to wear.
As a gamer, I tend to take hold of the various creation modes that games offer and tweak and nitpick to my heart's desire. For a game that is all about shopping, makeup and clothes, it's expected for there to be some customization to a degree. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the options available to players were vast, and since the game's obviously geared toward the ten-and-under set, buying new clothes, makeup palettes and accessories were easy. With the obligatory rhythm-action mini-game, designing posters and just collecting change off the ground, earning tokens takes little-to-no effort at all.
No matter how much customization this game supports, though, there's no redemption when it comes to the dialogue. Rather than snark on their scriptwriters, I'll just let the dialogue speak for itself: There's the haughty... er, hottie that greets you with "You look good -- not as good as me, but close," and a nicer (but a bit dimmer) one who ends every other sentence with "... nice." In my opinion, though, the winner is this girl in the park, who tells everyone that "I feel so mischievous today, like I just have to be naughty!" Looking at the outfit she sports while saying that, one only has to wonder what kind of naughty she's referring to.
In the end, I wanted to like the game. I really did, and even considered giving it a higher score. However, there was one thing that really held me back from doing so, and that was that I didn't like Rock Angelz as a game at all because there really wasn't a game there. I liked playing dress-up with these characters and visiting that part of my childhood that, as a geeky tomboy, never really was there. After all was said and done, though, underneath all the makeup, there wasn't really anything there to begin with. Bratz: Rock Angelz is all flash and no substance, and I can't recommend that to anyone, much less the impressionable young girls it's targeted towards.