If you've ever wondered what air hockey will be like in a few thousand years from now (okay, so you've got better things to think about), Ballistix for your TurboGrafx-16 may offer a clue. A futuristic sports contest, Ballistix takes traditional air hockey, mergest it with a pinball machine, then sets the whole thing in the future, providing a fast action game that'll keep you and your opponent (human or computer) battling for hours.
When you start playing, the game is simple enough. There are just the scrolling playing board and the battle begins. By shooting the main ball with balls of your own, you try to score into your opponents goal. As you play, bonus items will appear on screen, which you can collect by shooting them. The bonus items can add to your score, create a gate to protect your goal, slow the ball and more.
As the levels progress, though, complications set in. Pinball-like obstacles, for example, are added to the playing field. Bumpers block you from your opponent's goal, tunnels grab your ball and spit it out elsewhere and magnets snag the ball. In addition, you can expect to see some decidedly unpinball-like obstacles. Acid pools, for example, dissolve any ball that rolls through them, forcing the round to start over with a new ball. In addition, letter blocks frequently appear on the board if you can grab enough letters to spell R-I-C-O-C-H-E-T, you're awarded an extra 10,000 points.
Ballistix can be played against the computer or another human player. While most sports games feature a computer player that's almost impossible to beat, Ballistix's computer player can be tailored to your skill. The speed of the ball, the amount of gravity applied to the gaming board and the skill of the computer player can all be modified. You can also modify the number of goals required to finish a game, from one to five.
Ballistix is a transition from the computer game of the same name. The graphics in the Atari ST version of the game are gorgeous. The graphics for the TurboGrafx-16 version, however, are unimpressive. It's hard to believe that this is a 16-bit console, it's a shame this couldn't look more like the original computer games.
Still, if you like fact action, sports-type games that you can play with a friend, Ballistix ought to fill the bill nicely. There are enough good ideas in this game to warrant a look, even if this game is fifteen years old. It would have been nice to see more emphasis placed on a single player game, but as a multiplayer experience this works well. Ballistix is definitely worth a look.