Back in the mid-80s, someone thought it would be a great idea to create a series of toys that looked like a cross between baseballs and shrunken heads that looked like they’d been violently mauled by a rabid animal or a runaway semi-truck. Madballs were gross. Kids loved them. But a Madball-themed XBLA shooter released about 25 years after the fact just seems inherently wrong. Defying all logic, this old school-inspired abomination is actually so very right.
Madballs in Babo: Invasion’s campaign mode attempts to weave together a story that we’re pretty sure has something to do with Madballs, warring military factions, and interplanetary conflict. It’s hard to follow and makes little to no sense. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to, because rolling around through the jungle (space ship, temple, or whatever) as big eyeball with machineguns strapped to its sides is simply badass. Aside from the parade of ugly round creatures you’ll play as, there’s not much else in the game that has much to do with Madballs. That’s a good thing.
The roll-and-gun gameplay is easy to pick up and offers a surprising amount of fun for ten bucks, if you fancy getting your shoot on. You’ll blast your way through numerous levels of oddball baddies, hitting trigger switches, picking up new destructive weaponry, and accessing brief mission logs along the way. Moving around with left thumbstick and aiming with the right feels natural, and other button combos let you trigger special abilities and attacks. There are a lot of cool weapon and weird Madball characters to unlock. Being able to use the deadly gismos you unlock in the solo mode for dispatching other human opponents online is good incentive to hunker down and barrel through the main campaign.
Online matches are intense and easily the most satisfying way to play Madballs. You’ll find all the standard deathmatch and team options available alongside a few unique modes. Invasion lets you make your own maps to play on or slay other players on territory of their own design. Avatar Attack is hands-down the best online option, as it lets you crunch your avatar’s head into a giant rolling Madball character armed with death-dealing implements of your choosing. As you wrack up kills your head grows in size. Seeing our own huge noggin firing laser-infused ninja stars in all directions sealed the deal. Madballs is a worthy download.
Aug 13, 2009