Madballs in Babo:Invasion

Back in the Eighties among the waves of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Cabbage Patch Dolls and Glow Friends was a fairly successful (albeit down right bizarre) craze of character themed toy balls with no particular purpose but each with its own twisted look and often dodgy sounding name. Mummy’s, mutants, werewolves and pigs; the possibilities were endless. As part of their Naughties revival campaign, the Playbrains team have brought Madballs in Babo:Invasion to Xbox Live Arcade. Hold onto your globes, this could get interesting!

Madballs: once popular two decades ago, and now making a push for a comeback, much like Duran Duran or puffball skirts (much to my dismay!). Like many toys, the collectable factor of each Madball character made them a fairly successful playground toy; in fact if memory serves me right I do believe I owned a Screamin Meemie at one point, for no other reason than he pretty much looked like a cool mutant baseball. Purpose aside the series was popular enough to spawn a comic book and short lived cartoon series, and more importantly, a collection of video game releases for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and my old childhood fave Commodore 64.

In 2009 the purpose of the twisted looking balls is more about carnage and shooting the opposition than gory appearance. In Babo:Invasion 80’s survivor Oculus Orbus, a veiny looking blue eyeball, is now resurrected as a distant traveller recruited by the B.D.I, a typical American boot camp style army that defends the planet against the opposing Scorched Militia in the hunt for a powerful ancient artifact.In all reality, storyline has little effect on the actual game play, as this is a title for fans of causing mayhem and carnage with a variety of weapons, in a multitude of game play modes; but it’s always useful to know about the cause you’re fighting for!

Variety is definitely a major keyword for this title, as the choice of game play modes is quite extensive; including single player campaign, co-op score hunting rounds, and 5 online multi-player modes including favourites like capture the flag, team skirmish, or a nifty little number entitled Avatar Attack which allows you to use your Xbox Live Avatar Head (yes people it finally has a more technical purpose!) in place of the normal Madball noggin, and collect power ups to aid your quest in blowing up your online friends faces; its all getting a bit personal now isn’t it?

The controls of the game are surprisingly easy, given the variety of weapons, pick ups and game modes available, and is incredibly welcome when the frenzy of attack begins. In campaign mode the Madball characters also carry their own unique special abilities, requiring players to switch between balls to take down the enemy with more ease. Weapons also carry opposing bullets, such as flame and ice rounds, which is also a nice little twist to firefight, although sometimes frustrating and confusing when getting surrounded by balls and their weapons of fury! As if that wasn’t enough, multi-player mode Invasion allows players to build their half of the map area before game play begins, with a library of set tiles that allows games to be unique with every play.

All in all, the game acts as a multi-directional action shooter, set in maze like maps with a large armoury and extremely colourful and smooth running graphics appeal. For 800 Microsoft Points it really is a lot for your money, if you like this kind of game. People wishing for a little more substance rather than complete and utter carnage may find a few more faults, but Madballs in Babo:Invasion is a surprising and welcome little nugget in the Xbox Live Arcade family.







Leave a Reply