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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
4.5 Excellent
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: Unranked

Genre: (Sci Fi/ Sports)

Awards: Best Sound (Official Release)
The Game Where the Name Says it All....err .... um.... yeah.... Pros: Blow-you-away sound/ Fun Sci-Fi sport hybrid/ Good computer A.I.
Cons: Small quirks in gameplay
A Virtual Geometric Sports Fantasy


Overview: The year is 2149, no, I mean 3049, wait....it is 6674...whatever.......my point is it's a long time from now. Football, basketball, baseball, midget tossing, wrestling, and real TV have all faded away, and what turns the universe's crank is the exciting game of Ballblazer. I personally have hard time believing this would be an exciting thing to watch for the future mooks, but it ain't to bad too play today.
The game of Ballblazer in its most basic form is a variant of the game of soccer: shoot a ball through your opponent's goal. Win space-chicks and space-cash***. Instead of a team of players, it's just you in your Ballblazer machine against the other guy in his Ballblazer machine. This machine can do four things: 1) go really fast 2) retains the game ball in its force field 3) knocks the ball out of your opponent's force field and 4) shoots the ball. Cup holder, butt warmer, and GPS is available only on the PS5 version of the game.***

yeeeeeeee-hawwwww Graphics: This game features a really tacky color scheme, with the main colors being purple, orange, lime green, dark green, and blue. OH, Marcia Brady! NO! But if you can get past that, the graphics are really slick looking and suffers from no blinking nor jittering. The game looks smooth, and when you race across the game board, the visuals are pretty amazing. My only little beef besides the tackiness of the color scheme might be the lack of an audience! If this is supposed to be the best game in Spacetown 5000, where the heck are the peeps? the cheerleaders? the media? the guy that shoots T-Shirts into the stands with that fire extinguisher thingy?

Sound: Sit down...you won't believe this... but the sound for this game is actually........ extremely good. Yep, you heard me... BRILLIANT!!! This is because every Ballblazer cart has an advanced POKEY chip attached to its board and the result was amazing. Why other 7800 programmers shied away from this? Probably it was the cost. Ballblazer delivers quality sound, and the game's theme song can and will get stuck in your head. Kinda sounds like Herbie Hancocks' Axel F's cousin. It's pretty catchy, and it has a space age feel to it. Other audio in the game is solid, complete with great noises for the force field functions: stealing, retaining, and shooting. Audio-wise, super swell things also happen when you score a goal, shoot a goal, and the losing Ballblazer machine spins in maniacal circles. Best audio of the original licensed games- and its not even close.

Gameplay: Gameplay is good, but not great. The fast action of the game is simply impressive. Colors and tiles fly by at a blinding speed. The controls are simple, and easy to master. The frustrating part in all of this to me is the "Stealing the Ball" part of the game. Many times, you'll knock the ball away from your opponent, it bounces off the wall, and goes right back to him/her/they. This cycle can happen several times in a row during any given game, and it gets old. Another thing that is annoying is the stalemate that can happen in the corners of the game board. If the computer is charging towards the goal, and you are ramming him away from the goal, you can easily get caught in the corner. You can stay here until times expires for all he cares, he's not budging. If you are in the lead, you can jam him up...keeping him from scoring, but what fun is that? The game would have benefited from Mills Lane separating the two Ballblazer machines briefly and then yelling, "Let's Get It On!" for the restart of the action. Anyway, to fully enjoy the game, you must sometimes concede these types of goals. This is a blow to its fun factor. Nice unique touches in gameplay include: 3 points shots for long distance goals... and one point shots for dinks into the goal, shrinking goals, the unique scoring system, and auto turning. Your Ballblazer will always be facing the ball, even when you can't see it. The arena is very large, so this keeps you from wandering aimlessly like a drunken fool while the computer racks up goals at your expense. Even when you stray away from the ball, the computer will turn you towards the object of desire. Pretty neat.

Originality: I was always happy to see games of this quality and uniqueness rolling off the 7800 assembly line. Sadly, it was too rare a thing. Ballblazer really is just a Sci-fi air hockey from the paddle's point of view....take away the drops of sweat splattering the playing surface and the loud CLANKS of the discs slamming into the goal. I have never played another game like this on any other console.

Value: There are 9 difficulty levels of computer droids, ranging from what I would call a blithering, aging idiot to a 12-year-old kid. (Hey! 12-year-old kids are pretty good at video games). With practice, even the 12 year old can be crushed, and then BB's playability wears thin. A tournament, season, or a round robin mode would have absolutely rocked, but sadly, it's not there. The two-player game can be fun, and you can vary game length from a minute on up to 9.

Overall: All in all I would have to say that this is one of the 7800's crown jewel games. It definitely has the best audio in the library, and it is a very fast, competent, non-glitchy game to boot. If you can get past the Brady Bunch color scheme, and the few flaws in the gameplay, Ballblazer might make your Atari 7800 top ten list. This split level Sci-fi sports game had what it took to be an addictive cart in 1988, but I doubt that will last until 3049...or whatever the heck that year was on the back of the box. But for us? Buy it if you see it.


Other Reviews:

The Atari Times: 10 out of 10
Video Game Critic: B+
Atari Gaming Headquarters: 8 out of 10
CV's Atari 7800 Panoramic Froo-Froo: 4.0 out of 5.0 (Very Good)
Jose Q's Emuviews: 7.5 out of 10


Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Mitch Orman, owner of The Atari 7800 Page for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.


7800 Ballblazer games have a label variant, but it isn't TOO rare. Some carts have red end labels (same color as the mid-80's Atari 2600 games) as opposed to the in house 7800 silver labels. These are neat to have and can be found somewhat easily. Don't pay through the nose for it them.


There is a Ballblazer sequel actually on the original Playstation, but it was a flop. Maybe because kids at that time thought that Blazing Balls might have meant something gross?