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Ballblazer – Atari 7800

Ballblazer – Atari 7800

FeaturedPlatform: Atari 7800 ProSystem Emulator

Developer: Lucasfilm Games

Publisher: Atari

Release Date: 1988

Genre: Sports

Nerd Rating: 4 out of 10

Reviewed by Dovahkyle

This game was released three months before I was born. It maintains a grip of competitive action while also a simplistic format. This is barely a game at all by today’s standards, however it was recognized as a thrill ride of action and heralded as “Quick and Intense” by Computer Gaming World (A gaming magazine that ran from 1981 to 2006).

The-Grid-300x231 Ballblazer or maybe even Ball Blaster (the Atari 400/800 original) had to have been at least a small influence on the creation of Grifball, because it is essentially Ballblazer with teams instead of one on one. The online multiplayer playlist game Grifball was made popular by the Rooster Teeth show Red vs. Blue and the game Halo 3. Ballblazer doesn’t give you any “intro screen” like we have become accustom to with modern gaming and all the ridiculous options. Instead it begins with a credit to Lucasfilm Games and then drops the player(s) right into the action. Players can play against each other, the computer, or watch the computer battle itself.


Find the ball first

Rotofoils-300x233Each player starts opposite of each other on a large light/dark green checkered grid. Behind the players are their own goals. The goals are two posts that move back and forth across the respective side of the board. As each score is made the goal posts get closer together making subsequent goals harder to make. The idea is that as soon as the game allows the players to move they must race to the ball that is somewhere on the board. The players are in strange triangular one man hovercrafts called Rotofoils that have the ability to capture the ball with a kind of invisible tractor beam once the player is close enough. The Player can try to knock the ball out of the opponent’s possession, and the possessor can attempt to either run the ball in or shoot it in.

There are three different scores a player can make. Running the ball in scores 1, shooting from short distance 2, and shooting from a point so far that the player can’t even see the goal is 3. I noticed that the Rotofoils automatically hone in on the ball. If the opponent is in possession and passes me, then my Rotofoil will automatically turn towards the ball. Once the ball is possessed, the Rotofoil would automatically point me in the direction of the goal.

This style of sporting game was fun to a point. I had a bad taste in my mouth from the obscenity called Grifball that ruined Halo matchmaking for me. I do appreciate that as a child this probably wouldn’t have been half bad.


Party like it’s 1984

Goal-Posts-300x235The controls of the Rotofoils is simply forward, backward, left, and right. They are rightfully delayed in such a way that it makes the player feel like the craft is flying at break neck speeds on an icy lake. I didn’t plug in the old gamepad on this one, but it wasn’t that bad being that the “joystick” was my W,A,S,D controls and the two action buttons were mapped to the L,K buttons. It’s not like there is a lot to think about here; just get that stinkin’ ball to the goal first.


Fast, Violent, What else do you need?

Guess what Gen X and Y, you didn’t invent Dub Step. No, I instead believe games like this started the bass wobble and the distorted electronic music. That music mixed with the fast and violent shooting sounds cause the body to release some major endorphins. It almost feels good to just watch the game. If you start the game and don’t push any buttons, it will default to Droid vs Droid (computer vs computer), and boy does that computer get competitive. It kind of gives you a chance to understand the goal of the game, but isn’t too hard to figure out by playing.

As you can see by the pictures the graphics are not as terrible as you might of thought for being an Atari game, but this console was a little more impressive than its predecessors. The biggest problem I personally have with it is the extremely short field of view. The game is moving so fast that it’s difficult to see anything until it’s right on you.


ahhh, maybe

Purple-Flash-300x232I did play through a few rounds against the computer, which is fast an crazy. As the entire game is about scoring 5 times first there has to be a high replayability for it otherwise the game would be worthless after 5 minutes. I wasn’t blown away by the game, but it was fun, and I did play it a few times. I would think as a child and this being one of my only video games, I would have played it every day with my brother. I didn’t have a 7800 so my view on realistic replayability in the year(s) the game was intended to be played is speculative at best.


outdated? nah

Sure games like these are no match for the 7th and 8th generation consoles we have now, but there is nothing quite like popping in a game that was made around the time I was born and participating in some good old competitive ball games. The fact that this game was 3-D at all was impressive. I won’t pretend to be a hard core fan of games that are shorter than the lock picking mini game on Skyrim, but I do have respect for the games that started it all. I probably won’t be spending much time playing this again. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t check out the originals. What ever happened to games that just started when you put it in? Why go through 12 unskippable screens and cut-scenes before the game even starts? Oh how I miss the simplicity.

*FS Rating System*

Gameplay: 3

Story: N/A

Controls: 5

Graphics/Sound: 5

Replayability: 4

Overall: 4

Note: All screenshots shown I captured with Screenshot Captor Freeware it’s a great one click program.


Written by Nerd Bacon

Nerd Bacon


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  1. Pingback: Nerd Bacon Celebrates Retroary! (Retro + February = Retroary) - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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