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Review: Demolition Mouse Ball
Demolition Mouse Ball is an awesome action/puzzle game with a very unique concept. You control a circle dude with your mouse, trying to avoid bullets while destroying numbered barrels with your magnetic spinning hoop. It also has nothing to do with Sega's "Super Monkey Ball," despite a similar-sounding title.
The game starts with a poorly made title screen, featuring a gradient background and the protagonist and his hoop bouncing around in an enclosed box, which does little to foreshadow the awesomeness lying in wait. The inclusion of an instruction screen is a good touch, because the gameplay is so unique.
You move the character around with your mouse button, but it is actually coded so that you cannot pass through the barrels. Bumping into the hoop starts it, and pressing the right mouse button or waiting for it to run out of inertia stops the hoop. Pressing the left mouse button while the hoop is in motion makes the hoop look in your direction. You can keep up the hoops momentum by bumping it into barrels, the destruction of which is your main goal. The controls feel very smooth, and allow you to effortlessly guide the hoop in its destructive journey. Bumping the hoop into a barrel first reveals its specific number. Hitting a barrel 4 times in total destroys it. The field is divided into four quadrants, with a numbered turret in each corner. If you destroy barrels out of order (say, destroy all of the fours before the threes), then it activates specific turrets, which shoot at you when you're in their quadrant. The levels are well-designed, making you discover their patterns, then try to destroy the barrels in order. Destroying all barrels opens up the exit to the next level, and gives you an extra life. Every ten levels, a new obstacle is introduced: side turrets that shoot you if you stay in the same Y coordinate too long, bottom turrets that are similar to the side ones, and homing bombs that can kill you, and progress the barrels' countdown, but not destroy them. You can even use the hoop to deflect gunfire and destroy the homing bombs if you get good enough! Even though it might sound complicated as I wrote it down here, you can get the gist of the game very quickly as you play.
All 40+ levels take place on the same background: a green field with blue "X" outlines all over the place. Corner turrets are just static numbered boxes. The main character is just a circle with eyes (that, granted, do look in the direction he's travelling). The explosions are some kind of wireframe thingie that doesn't really fit in with the rest of the game. However, a game with as good gameplay as this doesn't need good graphics. Everything is immediately identifiable in-game, and that's all that matters to me.
Sound and Music:
The sound effects were well-chosen. The music, while helping to get me in the mood to play, was ultimately forgettable.
Demolition Mouse Ball has forty unique levels that take advantage of its underlying concept quite well. You get a password every ten levels, and, once you beat the game, there's a highscore board where you can record how many lives you had left. You also unlock a collection of ultra-hard bonus levels where the corner guns fire until you destroy all of their corresponding barrels.
Demolition Mouse Ball is a great, fun, original game, and I'm shocked at how little attention it has gotten, even after being nominated for Game of the Week.
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