Airball Download (1989 Amiga Game)

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As a punishment for having the temerity to trespass into the wizard's domain, he turns you into a balloon. The only way to regain your normal shape is to search his castle's many rooms and floors for a book of spells - find this, return it to the start room, and the wizard will then tell you how to complete your quest. In addition, many rooms have objects placed in them at random - these can be collected for extra points, etc. Equally, your balloon nature means you are vulnerable to two dangers. The first, a slow escape of air, can be cured by finding pumps and filling yourself with air again. But the second, contact with a sharp object, is fatal.

You can roll or bounce (over objects or up stairs) and pick up objects. The game has usual volume, pause and keyboard joystick options as well as a screen position adjuster. It starts well. A pre-game introductory sequence - optional if you press the spacebar during a short countdown - sets the mood well. An ornate castle room, subtly furnished with pastel shades, appears, and a teenage boy (representing the player) sneaks across the screen. Suddenly, the wizard slides into view, gestures, and before you can say 'eye of a newt' the boy vanishes and, in his place, is a bouncing balloon. This wizard does not mess around.

Sadly, it all seems to go downhill from there. It's almost as if that introductory vignette, plus the attractive title screen, has sucked the creativity from coders Ed Scio and Pete Lyon. There are good things in the game like Paul Shields' pounding and compulsive music soundtrack - but the game is given away by its 1987 copyright notice.

Is it an early Amiga game, now repackaged, or an old 8-bit scenario brought screaming into the 16-bit arena? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that whoever coded this must have spent a lot of their youth playing Ultimate classics, notable Nightlore and Alien 8. It's all here - the lozenge shaped rooms, the blocky structures, the odd crystal shapes, the objects that move from game to game, the enigmatic control panel and lack of coherent instructions.

Now I could cope with all of that if the game was of equivalent quality - it isn't. The plotline has been used too often. The balloon hero, although a nice idea allowing some graphic versatility, is too difficult to control with any real accuracy. And so on, and so on.

What is of interest are some little touches - a series of rooms lit only by some kind of phosphorescent glow, the need to pump the hero with air and the music. For the rest, I don't see myself returning to the game too often; not even for the mapping challenge that it represents. There's just not enough variety or machine-stretching coding to make it much more than a curiosity.

A shame that, because the programmers have talent, the rooms are well designed, the music pounds along pumping your adrenalin - it just doesn't lead anywhere.


How to run this game on modern Windows PC?

This game has been set up to work on modern Windows (10/8/7/Vista/XP 64/32-bit) computers without problems. Please choose Download - Easy Setup (3.04 MB).

 

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