I don’t really believe in censorship, but Ball Breakers for the original PlayStation gives me cause to reconsider. The fact it was ever sold for more than the $1.99 I paid for it off the bargain rack truly saddens me. For anyone who’s ever played it…my most sincere sympathies. Honestly.
There’s a prison planet of robots, our unfortunate mechanical brethren get “altered” into marble-bottomed robots and, withstanding their torturous, ballsy transition, are entered into a series of endless gladiatorial competitions. Yeah, I know—it sounded sort of nifty to me, too.
The soundtrack’s cheesy yet timely techno score is tolerable, which is a high compliment for this game. The game’s developers spent so much time on the pre-rendered sequences for your five start-up robots; you would think that they would put just as much into creating special sound effects or animations for their attacks. There is Angel, the female robot with a sword and Apostle, the goth bot, and even the congenial and clunky Benny robot; wow, I can chose a robot. I was so deceived looking at that startup menu when I saw I had a choice of a robot to play. I thought there might be hope for this game when I saw each different robot spinning around showing stat bars for strength, agility and stamina.
Then, I saw rolling around was OK, not that I couldn’t get that same kind of joy from playing Marble Madness. The controls are slow and your robot reacts like it’s moving through mud. If you press the block button (gotta love the block button) you can build up your rage meter and unleash a whirlwind of pink on your opponents. If I were a kid, I might cry “whoooaaa,” considering that it is the most exciting offensive move any of the robots make at all. Otherwise, it is just smashing and odd grunting and the occasional canned sound of applause or hisses when you complete a level or die.
Different emblems for the initial Eco Prison map—the rest of the prison maps resolutely locked as if there might be something special on the horizon—represent various challenges for your robot. A gauntlet style, where you avoid a few dumb robots, and I mean DUMB. The A.I. for these guys is laughable. They all come up to you and just smash you with the same annoying arm thrashing, causing a sound not unlike a washing machine being whacked. But since you have a marble bottom and can easily circumnavigate the two lone robots on a map the size of a small pond, there really isn’t any challenge here.
The racing-style challenge is slightly duller. You’re in a race with four other robots. You can’t really out-roll any one of them since they will come near you and play patty cake with air near you, but, if you just jump ahead, your robot will slow-mo jump about a half the measly course. And hopping around for the tag challenge collecting emblems like a leap frog is a breeze as long as you hold down the square button, because, otherwise, you can’t get your robot to stay on any straight course. So, you might not find anything in the playing of the game itself that is worth your time, and I would define the replay value as exciting as the prospect of keeping road kill as pets.
The sad part about a game like this is that it seems unfinished, like it was released too early in the PlayStation’s now illustrious history to even have a chance at surviving. If the maps were improved and the robots’ moves were a little more unique, Ball Breakers might have been comparably to something as successful as Powerstone. Being the loser without a lot of friends, yeah, maybe I might get a little more fun out of bot beating a human opponent in the multiplayer option, but not by much.
Personally, I’m donating this game to children in need, and I’m feeling guilty about it.