Review by Retro

"A strange fighting game, but it's not that bad at all"

To put it mildly, Ballz is a very strange fighting game. It's called Ballz because all of the fighters are made entirely of round balls put together instead of the usual polygon fighters or cartoon-looking characters. But that's not the reason that Ballz is a strange game, that's the least of the reasons.

As soon as you put in this game and the title screen comes up, you'll automatically see that it's not your typical fighting game. You can choose from a variety of characters that range from a clown, a monkey, a creature with a baseball bat, a ballet dancer, a rhinoceros, and a few others. Like in most fighting games, the fighters all have basic moves such as punches and kicks. They also have their own special moves, and there are many other moves that all or most of them have such as fatalities, charging moves, and many many more.

Alright, more about the fighting moves. The special moves are very original, just like almost everything in this game is. A few of the characters can use farts to stun their enemies where they can't even move, the rhinoceros can throw a horn or an eyeball at his enemies, Turbo can fly around in the air, Kronk can spit snot, and that's just the beginning. Each fighter has their own set of specialty moves which can be hilarious. For example, Kronk, the creature that carries the baseball bat around, can throw his enemies up in the air and then hit them pretty far with the bat as if they were a baseball. When you and your opponent get real close to each other, most of the time both of you will end up in a sort of wrestling match that pretty much tests who can press the buttons the fastest, which will end up in the loser getting hit somehow.

Believe it or not folks, there are tons of other fighting moves and different kinds of attacks involved in this game, but I'm not going to spoil all of them for you. But I will talk about one more kind of fighting move that most of you will be interested in if you ever play this game. Once your opponent's energy gets so low, you can press a certain combination of buttons and do a fatality. Don't jump for joy yet, it's not the kind of fatalities like you see in Mortal Kombat. Depending on who your fighter is, the fatalities are different. For example, the clown will roll you up in a ball and then stand on top of you and walk on you as if you were a round log, then you'll eventually explode. Sounds like a regular stunt that real-life clowns usually perform right? Well, other than the exploding part and the ball being a live being.

Phew, that's a lot of original fighting moves and tactics, especially when you're explaining them in a review. There are many other ways that Ballz is set apart from any other fighting game that has ever existed. For one, the game is 3-D. You can walk in any direction, 360º, as far as you want or need to. The last major thing about Ballz that is completely original are the awesome signs in the background of each level. The signs always show a picture of something or tell a message on them. Most of the time, the sign will say something based on who the two fighters who are currently battling are. For example, there is a big and strong fighter named Bruiser. If Bruiser loses a fight, the sign might say ''Are you Bruiser or loser?'' It will also say other things while you and your opponent are fighting that don't have anything to do with who the fighters are such as ''Go splat on the mat.'' There are also smaller signs that mainly just show pictures based on what is happening. The signs don't always try to be comical, sometimes they're serious and will tell you things such as how many fighters you have left to defeat before you beat the whole game.

Without a doubt, the most fun you will ever get out of Ballz will be to get a bunch of your family members or friends together and take turns playing the game. You can play up to two players at a time. Me and my brothers, and a few of our friends used to have tournaments with this game and many others and play it where the loser would pass the controller to somebody else until we found out who kept the controller the longest and who was the ultimate player.

If you don't have anybody to play this game with, it's challenging and somewhat fun to play a one player game against the computer. While you play a one player game, you will have to go up against all the regular fighters and a few bosses before you get anywhere near the end of the journey. That brings me to my only complaint about Ballz. I don't care how good you are at any video game, this game is not easy. Unless you know all the moves including specials, regular moves, jump attacks, and so on, you won't have much of a chance unless you're real lucky, to get to the end of the game.

Finally, if you don't like the settings, there are a few options in which you can change things such as the difficulty, switch the game into hyper (very fast) mode, and even how the matches are won, such as two out of three matches.

The bottom line is, Ballz is a hilarious and VERY original game that can be both challenging and a lot of fun. If you like playing games that are so original that they're not like any other game that has ever been made in any sense, you'll probably like Ballz. It's a shame that it didn't ever gain the popularity that it should've because it had the potential to be one of the most revolutionary fighters of all time.

GRAPHICS - The graphics in Ballz are surprisingly pretty good. The backgrounds are varied and almost all of them are well done. The characters are all 3-D and have great animation to them. Everything else such as the levels' textures and the signs are also well done.

SOUND - The sounds for the most part are well done. A few of the characters' voices can get annoying after hearing them too many times. Almost all the sound effects such as the punches and the specials are well done. Finally, the music in my opinion is the best part when it comes to the sound category. Some levels have a fast beat to them and others have a slower pitch. Either way, the music is great.

CONTROL - The control isn't bad or great, it's somewhere in the middle. The fighters respond fluidly to any button you press, but sometimes when the computer fighters are really ganging up on you, it can be a hassle to get out of the way or to do anything at all.

REPLAY VALUE - If you don't have anybody to play this game with, you probably won't be playing it all that much. But if you have some friends or family members that like the game, you'll have a blast playing it all the time!

OVERALL - For some reason, Ballz never did catch on as being the innovative and revolutionary game that it is. It's the most hilarious and one of the most entertaining fighting games I've ever played. I would recommend anybody who likes original games, games that are hilarious, or just fighting games in general, to not miss your chance to at least play this overlooked gem.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/21/01, Updated 05/20/02


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