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Ballz

SNES

Accolade 1991

 

 

Back in 1991 during the height of the fighting game craze somebody had the idea to make a game where your character is made up of little balls. Such a simple concept lead to big things.

Apparently not drawing hundred of different sprites and instead making a character out of different scaleable balls freed up all kinds of memory, allowing this game to do things unheard of on 16-bit machines. Not only do the fighters scale in size smoothly, they also walk around in a pseudo 3D enviroment, kind of like a poor man's Virtua fighter (remember back then 3D fighters were a big deal.) This game also featured motion capture, a large assortment of characters, digital voices, chain throws, "ballalites," etc. In the background a large screen flashes different messages or imagery depending on what's going on in the fight. So get stomped too badly and a "You suck!" message appears, etc.

Graphics are really good, move very smoothly and animate incredibly well. They tend to break up a little when walking to close to the "camera." Each character animates with a lot of personality, i.e. the clown dances around like a clown, the moneky scratches his armpits, the Rhino stamps and charges, etc. There is an awful lot of voice samples for the different characters too.

Sadly despite all of these innovations the game itself is pretty mediocre. The fights usually consist of who can hit the A button the fastest. There seems to be no real recovery time when your fighter gets hit, so you can basically get hit while advancing and still bust off a special or throw (which the computer seems to do with increasing frequency.) On the plus side the characters have a wide assortment of moves (including projectile attacks) although they seem to be a little unbalanced (for example the monkey has a farting move that hits you if you happen to be standing anywhere in front of him.) However any character can morph into any other character at any time so it really balances out.

A pretty decent game with a lot of innovation for the time, but bad execution keeps this title mediocre at best. Problably the closest thing to a 3D fighter you'll find on the SNES and worth checking out for the novelty factor.

 

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