Nerf Arena Blast is an interesting take on first-person shooters. In an attempt to remove the violence from the genre, the designers at Atari Corporation replace bullets with reasonably harmless Nerf foam pellets. Instead of characters being killed, they're merely rendered unconscious and moved to another part of the arena. Thus, without much actual tinkering, the concept behind games like Doom is sanitized for children. Unfortunately, the problem with this "watering down" effect of a very violent genre is that it doesn't really work. At its core, you still shoot people, rack up points and gather bigger and better weapons.
The three events in Nerf Arena Blast are all basically glorified Death Matches like those found in other first-person shooters. In the Point Blast competition, the only goal is to shoot as many of your opponents as possible before time expires. In the Ball Blast event, the goal is basically the same but with an added task of shooting cosmic basketballs into a strategically placed hole. In Speed Blast, the goal is still to shoot enemies while, this time, hurtling through a maze and trying to finish first.
With the exception of splattering blood and flying body parts, Nerf Arena Blast is no different than the Death Matches in games such as Delta Force, Half-Life, Quake and dozens of others. If non-violence is the goal, parents may want to stick with Chutes and Ladders if looking for a game for kids.
While Nerf Arena Blast is enjoyable, it's easy to get bogged down repeating the same events again and again. One badly designed aspect of the game is that you must place in the top three of all events at an arena in order to unlock the next one. While challenges are fun, this particular one is very difficult to achieve during gameplay and leads to frustration. If developers are going to lock away some areas in a game, they should at least include practice or exhibition modes that allow gamers to experience the entire game. Otherwise, games like this are likely to hit the archives sooner rather than later.
Visually, Nerf Arena Blast is slightly above average when compared to its contemporaries. With several arenas available, obviously extensive design work was put into the game. While textures aren't always smooth, the game has a good look and feel that rivals other 3D shooters on the market. The sound is serviceable but not memorable. Light music can be heard continuously in the background and most of the sound effects depict various Nerf munitions being propelled away from characters. With the limited impact on the game, playing your own CD will be just as enjoyable, if not more so.
If you have little patience, chances are you won't replay the game more than a few times. Overall, Nerf Arena Blast is a watered down first-person shooter with a little excitement and a lot of frustration. If you're a parent looking for a kid's game, look elsewhere. If you're a fan of first-person shooters, Nerf Arena Blast won't be substantial enough to keep your interest. But, if you're a big-time Nerf paraphernalia collector, you'll want to add the game to your stash.
Graphics: The game is on a par with its contemporaries. It garners a few bonus points for having several extensive arenas in which to play.
Sound: The sound is adequate but almost completely unnecessary. Listen to some real music instead.
Enjoyment: Because the game requires you to place in the top three of all events before unlocking the next arena, it can quickly become tedious.
Replay Value: Trying to unlock arenas can be challenging but most gamers will become frustrated and abandon it quickly.
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