Faceball 2000 is a port of an earlier Atari ST game called "Midi Maze." We have an simple first person shooter - one weapon, limited powerups, with the simple goal of killing everything that moves and finding the exit. This extremely simple makes this one of those games that anyone can pick up and enjoy without prior experience, but hinders the game at the advanced levels.
The object of the game is easy to figure out, simply kill everything that moves and proceed to the flashing exit afterwards. Enemy characters are represented by simple shapes - spheres, discs, droplets, domes, etc. Each one has a name that will appear across the bottom when targeted, and each has it's own specific behavior - for instance "Wally" will hug the walls and go back and forth, while "Turkey" acts more aggressive towards you. Certain flashing enemies take more hits to kill but will drop a powerup of some kind, such as speed ups, extra lives, or bonus point coins. Kill all the other faces and the black walls in the center drop to reveal the exit.
Enemy A. I. isn't too complicated, most of the bots tend to follow easy patterns (running back and forth being the most common.) The difficulty comes in getting surrounded or shot when proceeding around corners. Actually the fact that the game is so primitive is what makes it "harder." The inability to strafe means one must maneuver and expose one's self in situations where in a modern game it would be prudent to duck out, fire, and retreat. Also it's hard to tell when you've been hit exactly as there's not a distinctive sound, just a muted "bump!" and your health meter decreasing (which is represented by the four faces across the top of the screen.) It would have been better to have a loud noise and the screen flash red or something.
The original version of this game allowed multiple players to network and play against each other, sadly this version though is limited to a two player split screen. The benefit to the Snes version is better graphics and smoother gameplay.
My biggest gripe here actually is that you see all there is to see too soon, and there isn't much incentive to keep playing through the end. The game is easy enough that anyone familiar with modern shooters should be able to get to the second or third "world" before the difficulty ramps up to what I'd call challenging. As the game progresses the only thing that changes is the number of enemies and the background graphic. It would have been nice to have some boss battles or something once in a while.
Faceball is a mixed bag, a fun diversion for a few minutes but ultimately leaves a feeling of pointlessness on the inside. It would be interesting to have a modern sequel with updated play mechanics, in the meantime this version remains an oddity.
Graphics: Smooth running but get choppy when multiple characters are on screen. The draw in distance here is appalling but acceptable for a 16 bit game. Everything else is acceptable, with good use of color and various other special effects.
Sound: Repetitive Midi music starts to get on your nerves after a while. The only sound effects are your shots and the sound of you scoring a hit. As mentioned before it would have been nice to have a more distinctive "damage" sound.
Gameplay: Lack of modern fps mechanics makes this game feel very primitive.
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