Tag Archives: balls

One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, Commodore 64

This classic one-on-one basketball game on the Commodore 64 originated on the Apple II in 1983 and was later converted to other systems courtesy of Electronics Arts.

One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird is remembered as one of the best basketball games of all time and does indeed have a lot of subtlety to it that isn’t obvious until you play it.

Continue reading One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, Commodore 64

Mario Tennis: Power Tour, Game Boy Advance

This 2005 tennis game is one of my favourite sports games of all time.

Mario Tennis: Power Tour was developed by Camelot for Nintendo and is known as Mario Power Tennis in Europe and Australia, but I’m sticking to the original title.

Continue reading Mario Tennis: Power Tour, Game Boy Advance

Bounder, Commodore 64

Back in 1985 Bounder was a fresh idea, like a bolt out of the blue to gamers.

It’s an overhead ball/maze game where the maze is miles above the ground, and the idea is to make sure the ball bounces on the platforms of the maze, and not in the air. Bouncing when you’re in the air will result in a long fall to the ground below, and a lost life. So you have to judge the timing of bounces using a combination of rhythm, and also of sight (since you can see in the ball animation where it is in the bounce).

It’s like an overhead platform game with a bouncing ball. Very weird, but also unique and extremely well presented. Bounder is a retro-gaming classic on the Commodore 64.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounder_(video_game)

Bobby Bearing, ZX Spectrum

Bobby Bearing is an interesting isometric action game on the ZX Spectrum, published by The Edge in 1986.

You play as Bobby – a ball bearing – and must roll around the large, colourful maze, looking for and rescuing his four lost brothers and one cousin. Finding a lost relative is one thing, but pushing them all the way back to the starting ‘cave’ is another thing entirely. But that’s what you’ve got to do.

You’re up against a timer; a tortuous environment (falling off the edge loses you time); crushers which will squash you (losing you time), and evil dark bearings who will do everything they can to hinder you. Run out of time and it’s game over.

Bobby Bearing was a surprise hit at the time and still plays rather well today. It was converted to a number of other formats too.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Bearing

Brainstorm, Commodore 64

Pete Cooke‘s brilliant puzzle game Brainstorm was converted by David Kirby to the Commodore 64 and published by Silverbird in 1987.

The premise of the game is to draw lines – using an on-screen cursor – which allow you to trap the bouncing balls, and keep them within certain areas. Keeping the balls in red areas increases your score; pink areas decrease it, and green areas warp the balls to another part of the screen (annoying).

To progress to the next screen you simply have to score more points than the previous round. Well, I say “simply”, but it’s devilishly difficult… And incredibly addictive…

There are 26 screens in total. If anyone out there has ever beaten Brainstorm then you deserve a standing ovation. It sure is a fun game to play, though. A hidden gem on the Commodore 64.

While not for everyone, Brainstorm I would say is one of my favourite Commodore 64 of all time and is up there with Geoff Crammond‘s The Sentinel in terms of brilliant game ideas that you would never have thought of yourself.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Cooke

Penguin Wars, Game Boy

UPL and NEXOFT Corporation’s classic, cute Penguin Wars was initially released in arcades in 1985. This excellent Game Boy conversion came five years later, in 1990.

The basic premise of Penguin Wars is to throw balls across a table, at an opponent, in order to knock them over. It sounds easier than it is, and winning means coming up with strategies.

Penguin Wars is surprisingly addictive. Gameplay feels like a cross between air hockey and tennis and all the jolly graphics, music and trimmings give it an alluring atmosphere.

One great thing about the Game Boy version of Penguin Wars is that it is Game Link compatible, meaning: two players can go head-to-head against each other, with the Game Link cable connecting their devices. And playing two-player Penguin Wars really is a joy to behold.

Also on The King of Grabs: Penguin Wars 2 on the MSX

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penguin_Wars

Penguin Wars Game Boy Cover
Penguin Wars Game Boy Cover

Chew Man Fu, PC Engine

Known as “Be Ball” in its native Japan, Chew Man Fu is an excellent arcade-style puzzle game where the gameplay involves pushing and pulling coloured balls around a maze. The colours are important, because – in the main game, at least – you have to push/pull the balls onto the same-coloured floor switches. And: do all of this while avoiding being killed by bad guys.

The key thing is: you can push/pull the balls around corners, and can move forwards and backwards in a particular way to make your way around the maze. The balls – if gripped – will also block the bad guys from touching you, and you can also kick the balls at them to temporarily take them out of the game.

The early maze configurations are all very simple, but as you progress Chew Man Fu becomes harder and harder. Not only does it get harder to push the balls onto the correct switches, but the enemies get trickier too. Some can even pick up the balls and run away with them.

Chew Man Fu is playable both single-player, and simultaneous two-player. It also has a single-screen football mini game, called ‘Kickball’ as an amusing diversion.

The title is a parody of “Fu Manchu“, a fictional villain from a series of books and films. Chew Man Fu is actually the villiain in this.

Chew Man Fu is a ‘hidden gem’ on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 that is well worth searching out and playing nowadays. It was developed by Now Production for Hudson Soft and released on the PC Engine in Japan and North America in 1990.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chew_Man_Fu

Chew Man Fu PC Engine

Championship Pool, Super Nintendo

Bitmasters1993 title Championship Pool for the SNES is – I think – arguably the best pool game of all time. On any system.

Championship Pool dispenses with flashy visuals and 3D graphics, and gives you a set of limited viewpoints and solid physics, and delivers an almost perfect game. Under any type of rules, including (in the European version) English pub rules.

The feel of the weight of the balls as you hit them is fantastic. You can make subtle shots, and whomping hard-hitters, with aplomb, and Championship Pool allows bold, risky play because the on-screen visual aids make judging shots easier (than playing in real life).

Yes, the graphics are a bit rubbish in places, and – yes – the music can get on your tits after a bit (especially if you don’t like blues, but thankfully it can be switched off), but Championship Pool really delivers where it matters.

I can’t think of a better pool game, and I’ve played most of them. If you know of a better pool game: please let me know. And if you love pool, and haven’t played Championship Pool, then you’d be well advised to check it out.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Pool