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For: DS

Baku to the drawing board

Product: Bakushow (aka LOL) | Developer: Skip Ltd | Publisher: Rising Star Games Limited | Format: DS | Genre: Casual, Party/ mini- games | Players: 1-4 | Version: Europe
Bakushow (aka LOL) DS, thumbnail 1
Imagine being commissioned to review your three closest friends. A full few hundred words giving the pros and cons of - say -  Alex's sense of humour, whether Mark's anecdotes are replayable; that sort of thing. Give them all a rating out of ten, and you've basically got yourself a review of Bakushow. If you're curious as to why, then let me explain.

wants to be a party game, and it wants you to play it something like this: settle down with up to three other people and connect via the wireless system using just a single copy of the game. Once you're all up and running, the player with the Bakushow cart sets the first challenge, and what that might be is completely up to them. They're given a PictoChat-style blank screen to scrawl on, and once they've finished it gets sent over to the other players.

But Bakushow shoots itself in the foot early on with its interface which,  although it mimics PictoChat in many ways, doesn't offer a keyboard input, which makes attempts at writing more than five words messy at best and at worst a sort of nightmarish message from the underworld.

There's also not much in the way of symbols or pen options – and no colour either. It might not make it much worse than PictoChat, but for such a fundamental part of the program, a little variety would not have gone amiss.

So the challenge gets sent out, and everyone - including the challenge creator - jots down their solution. There's a little 'copy' button if you want to use the question as part of your solution - for instance to complete a picture or phrase - but how you answer is completely open. You might try to draw a picture to answer a maths question, or scribble a joke down when someone asks what the world's longest dog is.

Why would you do that? Because Bakushow, more than anything else, is concerned with what's funny. Once everyone's done with answering the question - or when the time limit has been reached - everyone is forwarded to a voting screen where the host reveals each entry one by one, before allowing everyone to allocate points. It's completely up to you how you vote -including voting for yourself - but it doesn't really have any bearing on the game itself, as it's the host who chooses the next question-setter.

That's Bakushow in its entirety. Set a question. Answer a question. Vote, and repeat. It's sort of tempting to end the review there and let you fill in the blanks for yourself as to whether this might work or not, but that wouldn't give quite the right impression about Bakushow, which is a game with a lot of potential.

Plus it's my job to fill in the blanks for you, of course.

As a premise, Bakushow embodies everything the DS was supposed to be. The two screens weren't introduced so that we could tap inventory items or scroll a world map. All the functionality of your little white box was aimed at games like Bakushow coming to life - fun games that anyone can play, casually or as a big event. It's a concept that's simple on a boardgame-like level, an idea that sits alongside Brain Training or Nintendogs for its accessibility. But the execution is extremely flawed, to the point where most of the opportunities for fun are missed completely.

The voting system means that any attempts at asking factual or exact questions are thrown completely out of the window, and because there's quite literally nothing supplied in Bakushow, you'll spend plenty of time waiting for others to think up questions or answer them.

Just a few supplied sets of challenges would have made for a much more palatable game. But as it stands, Bakushow simply feels empty.

Despite the score below, some people will get a lot out of Bakushow. But the average group of DS owners are going to be equal parts frustrated, bored and confused. With only the scoring system separating it from PictoChat or - at the risk of sounding old-timey - a few pens and some paper, Bakushow really struggles to bring its great idea to life. While there's room for a game like this on DS - and maybe one will spring up that does it better in the future - this is one party game worth ignoring for now.
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 19 September 2008
A rough draft for what could become a masterpiece, Bakushow is messy, unfinished and not yet worth the money
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