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Ballz

Genre: Fighting Developer: PR Magic Publisher: Accolade Players: 1-2 Released: 1994

During my years of being a critic of retro games, all I’ve known is what I’m given. All I know is what I see, what I hear, and what I feel. I can look at a game, and by these different pieces I give a review of what I’ve seen, heard, and felt. It was once easy for me to say “this game is awesome” and to also say “please ignore this game,” but over the past couple months it’s been harder for me to really sit down and be so critical.

I want to put this out there. Any game that you see on the market, today or in the past, was a project. From the initial brainstorming to the finished product, at least one person worked on that game. If you’ve even done the simplest coding in high school, you know that it’s not something that anyone can do without some sort of guide. What I’m saying is, who am I to judge what’s “bad?” I’ve never attempted to code out a game. Never sat for months to try to piece together a story, characters, mechanics, game engines, colors, soundtracks, etc. It’s something that not everyone can just do. I mean, I write these reviews for fun and to inform new gamers on what they should try. But there’s a difference between saying one game is a better buy than the other and simply saying “this game is really bad, and the developers should all be thrown into a rushing river while on Vicoden.” I’m feeling guilty. REALLY guilty.

Well, here’s the game that I recently got a hand on for a grand total of $.99. The game is Ballz. Much doesn’t have to be said back story-wise. It’s the infamous fighter that many called the worst game they’ve ever played! The WORST! There’s been a stinker or two out there, but the WORST? That could be a BIT much to say.

The game was marketed as a genuine breakthrough in games as we know it. 3D graphics on a 2.5 playing field. Select from your assortment of 3D warriors, all built out of marbles (or Ballz!) and fight your way to face Joker and T-Rex (Holy Random Religious Figure, I remembered the final bosses names!) The game was full-on extreme marketing and there was plenty of hype. I know I wanted it when it was being advertised, and more than a few school acquaintances already had written the game on top of Santa’s wish list (tell Santa you want BALLZ for Christmas!) Would it live to the hype?

In a word: No. What we got instead was a brave attempt. I mean, you’re supposed to bring a fighting game to the world for Christmas, but by now plenty of companies have taken a deadlock on the market. You can’t just make 8-12 characters, give them all three special moves, put them in front of a forest and sell it! You need gimmicks! Blood? Been done. Clay? Already out. Dinosaurs? Not quite yet. When you’ve got the ability to blow everything out of the water and create uniqueness, you jump at it!

Gamers of all types got a game where a lot of consideration was done to bring a colorful, 3D world to the console. The menu was easy to read and the backgrounds were pretty nice to look at. Details on your characters and how the fight was going wasn’t really implemented all that much in games at the time, so that would’ve been seen as a plus. Even the life bar wasn’t the norm.

The audio isn’t too much to really consider. A basic theme song that likes to play during anything you do, and it’s catchy… but more like venereal disease catchy – not the good kind of catchy. As long as we’ve got these computer generated characters roaming the landscape, lets throw in this computer “techno” that was like someone trying to mimic Tommy Tallarico. Plenty of characters seem to use the same sound effects as well (but that’s because of size issues apparently). Even with all the sounds, it doesn’t help the cause.

What really turned Ballz into the laughing stock it became was the controls. This is button masher at its finest. Moves exist for each character, of course, and there are actually abilities to transform into another character mid-match (which is cool, but probably something only this game could really pull-off). It’s hard though when overall it’s a chore to really connect with anything resembling a combo. When it gets to a certain point, you may as well forget anything other than smashing whatever button works at the time because the computer can really start doing stuff that you just can’t do. Even if the sound worked out, the controls and the gameplay as a whole really kill any fun to be had, which is unfortunate.

So, here we are. Ballz is a game that many just don’t play because it’s seen as SO bad. Well, I’m not going to lie; it is hard to really get into, but this brings back the point I made in the beginning. Who am I to say that this game was really a waste of time? I know nothing of how it was made, or how much time and effort was put in. It’s hard for me to stick a number on this.

Ah… the hell with it. THIS GAME IS UTTER TOSH! Ignore Ballz at all costs! If there’s an awesome bundle on eBay with ten games you always wanted, and the dealer is will send you Ballz for free just for buying? Report him!

SCORE: 2 out of 10

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