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UniBall Review

Review; Sep. 7, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec

One of the joys of playing games on PC is stumbling across little gems that otherwise go unnoticed. If not for stumbling around and searching, I would have never been introduced to games such as Cave Story or Super Mario Crossover. The internet truly holds some fantastic games, which unfortunately (more often than not) get overlooked by the bigger, flashier titles.

UniBall Screenshots
Click on the image to view screenshots.

UniBall is an independent title created by Josh "C:\" Langley and Nick "NickW" Weihs in 1999. The objective is simple: You play opposing teams by steering your space craft through a 2D top-own perspective, navigating the playing field while attempting to shoot the ball into your opponent’s goal. It’s pretty much soccer with space ships with a few little twists thrown in for good measure. The walls will repel any balls that hit them, turning a once simple space ship soccer game into a frenzied version of ball ricochet from games such as Warlords and Breakout

Not all of the playing field is a simple soccer field, either. There are some variations, such as a racing and dodge ball maps adding some variety into the game play. Out of all three, the default soccer mode was the most interesting and fun to play. The others, while fun, didn't seem as kinetic and exciting as the default mode. The main draw behind UniBall is the teamwork aspect, and that’s best experienced in the soccer mode.

This brings up UniBall’s largest flaw, which, in all honesty, is probably not entirely the developer’s fault. However, it must be addressed. I played at four different times a day, and at all four times, it was difficult to find a server that actually had players. The few servers I did find with players were adequate, but also were a bit intimidating. UniBall in itself is simple, but it does take a few rounds to get used to some of the mechanics, such as the inertia of your spaceship and the ricocheting balls. There were a few times I was kicked from the server after being discovered that I was a new player to the game, and with the limited number of servers, it was difficult to find another one. The UniBall community is small and has been playing since the game’s inception in 1999. While not overly aggressive, it still seems to have little patience for new players, making it slightly intimidating for new players and for a game offered free -- in some cases, it can make the game not worth the time at all.

Despite the community problems, the game lying underneath it all is actually a lot of fun. For a simple game that can be played on nearly any PC and requires little time investment, it’s a perfectly serviceable game, for the asking price (free). For the best results, gather a few of your friends and play together before venturing into the more dedicated UniBall multiplayer world. I can’t entirely recommend it, but for the price, it’s worth a look. 


Review Score

Not Rated by ESRB

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