Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Spaceball: Revolution

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

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            Now playable on both PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation 3, the PSP Minis channel has greatly escalated in value to both games developers and the gamers themselves in recent months. Massively increasing the sales potential of new products whilst also giving those with a love of their downloaded title the opportunity to play at home as well as on the go, PSP Minis have suddenly gone from a nice little extra for those with a couple of spare pounds in their PlayStation Network “Wallet” to a competitive digital distribution channel, and with that of course comes renewed interest in the service. Virtual Toys’ latest release, Spaceball: Revolution is a title that’s set to make the most of this through simple-yet-addictive gameplay that sits well both as an evening’s entertainment and a ten-minute challenge on-the-go.

            The essence of Spaceball: Revolution is a hand-eye coordination challenge: players are tasked with filling-out a 3×3 grid in accordance with the displayed image. Shooting a ball will fill-in or remove the background from a box on the grid, hitting a line will do the same for all boxes Electronic Theatre Imageimmediately connected to that line. Simple enough as it starts, Spaceball: Revolution soon builds in complexity by adding foreground cubes that obstruct your shots, asking players to monitor their movement and time their shots precisely. As players continue, further objects eventually force players to rebound shots off the surrounding walls to land correctly on the grid with the addition of floating asteroids and swinging pendulums. All of this must be done within a strict time limit, with the grid moving further away as the time remaining decreases – lowering the accuracy of shots.

            Both the D-Pad and the Left Analogue Stick (or the Analogue Nub on PSP) can be used for aiming, with presses of the D-Pad moving directly across box centres and lines, and the Analogue Stick allowing for greater precision. The limitation placed upon the D-Pad when attempting rebounds off walls seems a little unnecessary, as moving along the outer gameplay area with the Analogue Stick is far slower and certainly doesn’t aid the player when time is pressing. Once the level of difficulty becomes more taxing, players will have their dexterity challenged as they flick between the two control options attempting to find the balance between speed and precision.

            Spaceball: Revolution features two gameplay modes; Challenge and Free Play. The Challenge mode contains the structured game while Free Play Electronic Theatre Imageallows players to replay previously completed levels in an attempt to improve upon their previous score. The Challenge mode is obviously the meat of the game, though Free Play does allow for newcomers to sample a variety of levels before beginning their own journey through the fifteen levels. Each level in Spaceball: Revolution is divided into rounds, at which point the grid resets – any further penalties, such as the zoom-out of the grid, are removed and the player can begin the next challenge afresh.

            The game’s replay value lies in that of a score attack game. As mentioned above, Free Play allows players to return to previously completed levels and attempt to beat their previous score. Performing certain actions in-game grants bonuses; finding the quickest route to each new solution and rebounding on even the simplest shots soon becomes an addiction once the player becomes familiar with the multiplier bonuses available. The lack of online leaderboards is a little disappointing – especially as the WiiWare release made such competition available to players worldwide – but with the game playable on both PSP and PlayStation 3, most players would probably ignore any online element offered in favour of competing with their own scores.

            Spaceball: Revolution features a crisp and clean aesthetic, billed as an 80’s retro quality. However, it’s more apparent that the colourful yet simplistic stylings hasElectronic Theatre Image been influenced by the likes of Lumines and a number of PopCap Games, which is certainly not a bad comparison to be making. The soundtrack has also taken inspiration from Q Entertainment’s most popular release, with ambient techno beats providing a suitable score to the increasingly tense gameplay.

            Virtual Toys’ PSP Minis conversion of Spaceball: Revolution has been well devised to take full advantage of the opportunities the distribution channel provides, and it’s unlikely that many will find fault with the package being offered at such a reasonable price point. The fifteen levels contained within may leave some wishing that more content had been included in the package, but with the Free Play mode insisting that the score attack element is more important than constantly working through increasing difficulties it’s certain to provide enough longevity to older gamers who enjoying presenting themselves with their own challenge. As a hark back to times when games were simpler and more immediate, Spaceball: Revolution fits the bill almost perfectly.Electronic Theatre Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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