|David Levine, Peter Langston, David Riordan, and
|Originally called Topsy Turvy
In late 1983 as the 5200 was entering its final stage of life, LucasFilm
(yes that Lucasfilm) decided they wanted to take a shot at the videogame
market. Although LucasFilm was a huge and successful company, they
didn't have clue one on how to go about entering the highly competitive
videogame market. So instead of floundering around like an amateur,
LucasFilm wisely joined forces with Atari to publish its games. Unfortunately
this partnership was to be short lived as their first two 5200 games,
Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus, would be their last. However
LucasFilm went on to publish several more games for the Atari 8-bit computer
line under their own name.
The year is 3097. The place, a null-gravity nexus
mid-space in the binary star system Kalaxon and Kalamar. This is
the site of the final round of the Interstellar Ballblazer Championship,
the ultimate sport in the universe. The crowd is buzzing with excitement
as for the first time a Earthling has qualified for the championship.
The only thing standing between you and victory is the enemy's Rotofoil.
The pride, prestige, and honor of Earth is on the line. Don't
let them down...
Despite the cool sounding setup, Ballblazer is really just
futuristic one-on-one soccer. Each player controls a small ship
called a Rotofoil which is used to move the ball around the field. The
Rotofoil is amazingly fast and can move down the field at blazing speeds
(hence the name of the game). The goal of the game is to bypass
your opponent and shoot the ball through the tiny posts at each of the
field. Of course this is all easier said than done, especially when
traveling at mind numbing speeds.
Thankfully the controls in Ballblazer are easy to master.
Pushing the joystick forward makes your Rotofoil accelerate, while
letting go of your controller will make the Rotofoil slow to a stop. Since
the fist person perspective of the game can be a bit disorienting, the
programmers were nice enough to make your Rotofoil automatically rotate
to face in the direction of the ball. If you get lost, just keep
pushing forward and you'll eventually find the ball. Once you touch
the ball your force field will "grab" onto it, and the ball
will remain with your Rotofoil until it's stolen or shot. The ball
can be stolen by simply bumping into your opponent, but since he can simply
steal it back by quickly bumping back into you, successfully stealing
the ball is easier said than done.
Of course just riding around with the ball all day isn't
going to win you the game. To be crowned Masterblazer you're going
to need to score alot of goals (well at least one more than your opponent
anyway). To score a goal, simply move your Rotofoil in view of the
goal posts and press the button to launch the ball. If all goes
well the ball will whizz through the posts and you'll score a point. Score
five points and you win. Of course it wouldn't be much of a game
if scoring points was this easy now would it? To make things a bit
more difficult the goal posts actually move! Not only are they mobile,
but they actually shrink a bit with each goal scored. Oh and make
sure you don't accidentally shoot at the wrong goal posts since you can
score on yourself (and trust me that's really embarassing).
With it's split-screen two player action, first person
perspective, and kick ass musical score (one of the first to be scored
by a profession musician), Ballblazer was light-years ahead of its time.
Although the scaling and movement isn't quite as smooth as it is
in the 7800 version, the 5200 does a great job of keeping the speed at
a high level. Ballblazer was one of only two games released in the
white Lucasfilm-Atari style boxes, and in an odd quirk the cart label
doesn't seem to mention the name of the game anywhere! Thank god
only two games were released like this or things could have gotten mighty
||Ballblazer Cartridge 1-20-84
||Minor differences in copyright text
to 5200 Software