Reviewed by Jim Short


Issue 20

Mar/Apr 86

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Lucasfilm/ Activision
48K cassette 9.95
48K disk 14.95
1/2 players
1/2 joysticks




The year is 3097 and the name of the game is BALLBLAZER - the most popular sport in the Universe. Jump into your Rotofoil and take to the grid for the head-to-head confrontation of the century. Have you got what it takes to become a Masterblazer?

BALLBLAZER might be described as a cross between Soccer and Rollerball. It takes place on a huge chequered grid, rectangular in shape, with moving Goalbeams at either end. There are no teams - just you strapped in your high speed Rotofoil against a similarly equipped opponent.

The screen is split into two, so that both players have their own separate view of the grid. You do not see your own Rotofoil, only your opponent's. A typical BALLBLAZER game goes something like this: You face one another down the length of the grid. Two Rotofoils. Two streamlined gladiators. Wherever you go in the Universe, there's only one regulation BALLBLAZER game - three minutes, two players, one victor. Here we go! The computer fires the Plasmorb in from the left. You know you have to get to that orb before he does. Okay, you reach the orb first. Your Rotofoil captures it in it's Pullfield - the pillow of energy surrounding it - and the orb immediately changes to your colour. Wait for the Rotosnap and then accelerate down the grid towards those Goalbeams. They're moving, of course, in the same direction the orb is fired. You sight the goal and now's your chance to surprise him. He moves in to block. Back off and shoot the orb just as the Goalbeams disappear over the horizon. That's it! A brilliant over-the-horizon (OTH) shot. Three points on the scoreboard already. You have to get those OTH shots in early before the goal starts to shrink! You're in deep trouble from the second face-off. He fools you with some neat Pushfield dribbling and shoots a two-pointer. You get the orb next time round but he Buzzblasts it away and then captures it to shoot another two-pointer. Hey, this guy's no pushover! He leads four to three. You're playing great defence now, but missing a lot of shots on offence. You change tactics slightly. You capture the orb but you don't shoot it at goal. Instead, you fake a shot and then run it in for a solitary point to even the game-score. He tries the same thing and gets that vital one-pointer. There's only 20 seconds left and you're five to four down!

Face-off number six coming up. You capture the orb and set off down the grid. He's closing in, trying to Buzzblast the orb away. If you lose the orb now it's curtains! You back off - the only safe way to go is back. You can just see the goal on the horizon but it's too small to attempt a crazy three-pointer at this stage. Time's running out, so you've got to do something - anything. You try an angled shot off the Electroboundary. It misses, but you capture the rebound. The goal's much nearer this time. Blast! Blast! You made it - a two-pointer! There's only 3 seconds left on the clock and no way back for him now. The face-off is a mere formality. The clock hits zero and it's all over. You win six to four. The atmosphere over the asteroid glows with the purple colour of your victorious Rotofoil. You are BALLBLAZER Champion of the Universe..

BALLBLAZER can be played against a human opponent (the only true way to play the game!) or a variety of computer controlled Droids. The game timer can be set anywhere from one to nine minutes. You score one, two or three points depending on the distance of your shot and ten points wins the game outright, otherwise the winner is the player with the most points when the timer hits zero. If the points are equal at this stage, the game goes into over-time.

And now for the superlatives, if I can find enough to go round. The graphics are mind-blowing, but then the whole package oozes class from start to finish. Disk owners are in for a special treat as the disk version of BALLBLAZER features an incredible animated loading sequence, the like of which I've never seen before. Even the theme music - or the 'Song of the Grid' to give it it's proper title - is something else! It kicks off with a deep bassy toe-tapping rhythm and synthesizer harmonies are then added to produce a complex computer masterpiece which Rick Wakeman himself would be proud of. Yes folks, BALLBLAZER truly is the ultimate in computer games. If you don't buy it, you certainly don't deserve to call yourself an Atari owner - even if you never actually play the game you will still own the most incredible sound & graphics 'demo' yet seen on an 8-bit micro!

Anyway, I'll have to go now. Another budding BALLBLAZER champion awaits my challenge. Still, that's the name of the game. The only game. BALLBLAZER - three minutes, two players, one victor!!!