Gordon Houghton gets his Rotofoils round a new version of an old classic.
It is many centuries since the Great Madness ravaged worlds with interstellar space battles. Then came a time of peace, when the only battles were fought on the Ballblazer pitch: Ballblazer was a sport derived from miltary exercises involving rapid acceleration and snap changes in direction.
Now Masterblazer has arrived - the same sport, but faster and smoother than ever before. The concepts simple: two players attempt to score as many goals as possible against each other within a pre-determined time imit. The Playfield set on a small artificial asteroid (and so slightly curved), the players fight for possession of a Plasmarb (the ball) using Rotofolls (a kind of fast hovercraft), and an opponent's goal gets narrower the more goals he concedes.
Contestants can participate either in solo matches against other human beings, or against nine levels of droid. There's also a knockout competition in which up to eight human players fight it out for a trophy, and a two-player 3D race.
Masterblazer proves that successful concepts are timeless: Ballblazer, the original 8-bit one-on-one future sport on which Masterblazers based, is now over five years old. The original's gameplay has been left unscathed there are minimal additions in terms of sound and graphical effects, and the movement is a lot slicker, but fast and furious as it ever was.
As with the original, it plays a lot better with two human players, since people are unpredictable and switch tactics to suit the situation. That's not to say that the computer opponents are a waste of time - it will be many moons before anyone new will knock more than a couple of goals past the ninth Droid.
Masterblazer's additions are only structural - you can compete in a cup competition, watch the demonstration, check out the Rotofoil specifications, or try the 3D race sequence.
These extras don't really add much to the sport itself, but it's nice to have them ail the same. The idea behind Masterblazer is big enough to stand on its own: it's simple, original and it works brilliantly.
The news is good: apart from toned-down musical accompaniment, there should be no differences in gameplay.
Rainbow Arts is keeping its Rotofoils under its hat on this one. PC Masterblazer should be the same, but check it out for graphics modes and sound support first.