REVIEW: Madballs in Babo: Invasion
Turning an awesome toy line from the 1980s into a video game must mean that I can only be talking about one franchise; the Teenage Mutant Nin... wait… I mean Madballs! For those of you that loved the oldschool Madballs toys like I did, Playbrains brings us Madballs in Babo: Invasion. For those of you that don’t even know what Madballs are then “you suck!”
Madballs in Babo: Invasion takes traditional Madballs toy characters like Oculus Orbus and Horn Head along with a bunch of newly created Madballs and puts them in an action / shooter. This downloadable title is as big on novelty as it is big on gameplay.
Art and Animation
The character design in Madballs in Babo: Invasion is pretty much the same kind of character design of the Madballs that we grew up with. Oculus Orbus and Horn Head look just like they did when they were toys; However, the gross factor of the new Madballs character designs have been reduced. New characters like Major Stone and Robo are well designed characters but I would have loved to see that same gross factor that was found in many 1980s toys, not just Madballs. In a game about balls, you can’t really expect much in terms of animation outside of the bouncing ball animations that every 3D student creates on their first day. However, the variety of guns and explosives found in Madballs in Babo: Invasion leaves way for some outstanding looking particle effects.
Madballs in Babo: Invasion keeps a handy amount of character quips and various explosive sound effects to hold the game together nicely. Background music in various levels are nicely added although I feel like some of these audio tracks could have been pushed a little further and made more memorable. Some characters have some funny one liners to keep with the style of the game and to entertain all the while.
Here is where this game shines the brightest. The gameplay in Madballs in Babo: Invasion is saturated with creativity and a formula that just works. Players control the Madballs by rolling them around the levels. As you venture through each level the Madballs can pick up a variety of guns and explosives. The guns float on the side of the Madballs, a la VeggieTales, and you commence blasting your foes into a greasy paste. The guns are wild with things like lazer rifles, dual machine guns, rocket launchers and fire and ice shot guns. Players can also take advantage of frag grenades and Molotov cocktails. Each Madball falls under one of five different types of characters. Each character has their own special abilities such as Oculus having super speed attacks and Horn Head having circular attacks. The main story mode can be completed alone or with up to 3 friends. Multiplayer modes allow up to 16 players to go at it in the many online multiplayer modes that Madballs in Babo: Invasion offers. That’s a new record for Xbox LIVE Arcade folks!
You can also take the head of your Xbox 360 Avatar and use them during gameplay as your own custom Madball. Multiplayer modes also bring some new things to the game industry table such as the ability to change the level around in between multiplayer rounds in Invasion Mode.
The Final Verdict
There are only a few issues I have with Madballs in Babo: Invasion; everything is played in a top down view which leaves much to be desired in camera control. Also, every once in a while the game hits a lag spike and will freeze for about a half a second; it’s not terribly annoying but when there are enemies on the screen it invokes a little bit of panic. Multiplayer is the best part of this game but unfortunately there is no support for local multiplayer, everything has to be online. Lastly, I would have liked to see more classic Madballs characters like Freaky Fullback, Skull Face, Dust Brain and Screamin' Meemie featured in the game along with Oculus and Horn Head.
Aside from these minor issues, Madballs in Babo: Invasion is a fantastic XBLA and PC title with truly satisfying gameplay. It’s kind of like Marble Madness meets Unreal Tournament! The story of the main campaign is something that just holds the game together but it also turns out to be inadvertently hilarious at times. For example, the Madball character Oculus crash lands on an alien world where the aliens also happen to be Madballs as well. The game will run you 800 Microsoft points on Xbox LIVE Arcade which is $10 in normal people talk. Madballs in Babo: Invasion is really one of those underground hits that a lot of people can really get into. I personally love it because it’s the only shooter game where every one of my shots is a headshot!