Madballs in...Babo:Invasion Micro-Review: Drives You Mad, Busts Your Balls

Madballs in...Babo:Invasion is an action shooter for Xbox Live Arcade very loosely based on the deliberately disgusting toy line of the 1980s.

The Madballs round out the cast of Babo Invasion, forming two factions of rowdy, rolling balls that somehow wield firearms despite having no arms. Sadly, unlike those somewhat popular squishy balls of the 80s, you can't use this game to gross out your little sister. Although, if you take her Xbox Live avatar into the Avatar Mode, she might get a scare from seeing her virtual representation morphed into a bodiless head.

Loved
The Multiplayer: Madballs: Babo Invasion is the kind of game you can really get into with the right bunch of people to shoot at. In the basic capture the flag and deathmatch modes, the momentum of 16 playable balls (or converted avatar heads) rolling around a map rapidly firing guns lends itself to a frenetic pace. The fact that combatants go splat in multiple colors when they get shot just makes it that much more satisfying. And if you're above the cheap thrill of busting open your buddies' Madballs, then the strategy-infused Invasion mode still has something for you. In Invasion, you build half of the multiplayer map and hide your base somewhere on the part you've built. You can't see the other side of the map your opponent is building until the game starts and then you've got to go out and find their base to destroy it before they discover where you've hidden yours.

The Controls: The controls in Madballs are easy to pick up and yet complex enough to allow for all different types of weapons and various styles of gameplay associated with each Madball class (like the Flyer class – which can, well, fly). This is a blessing because it cuts back on the amount of time you need to spend in the tutorial mode or the campaign mode to get familiar with fighting so you can go out and rock multiplayer.

Hated
Single-player Campaign: The single-player campaign is tedious, repetitive and really unbalanced to the point where a mid-level mob is more ball-busting than the actual boss. You start the game off with a limited selection of characters and weapons and then have to roll through a series of levels that require you to shoot at essentially the same creatures over and over again. This wouldn't be so bad because you do feel like you're making progress when you unlock a new weapon or Madball. However, the weapons and characters you unlock never seem to be the ones you have access to in the level, which is a real drag. On top of that, the difficulty within levels gets pretty choppy with some enemies having really great AI and a lot of puzzles not requiring a lot of brain power.

Honestly, the single-player campaign wrecked the game for me; it was just too repetitive and too unbalanced. Much better to play against other people who are both fallible and not programmed to fire a rocket at the exact spot you'll land if you fall off a ledge. If you're the multiplayer thrill-seeking type or a hardcore fan of the old Madballs franchise, avoid the campaign and go straight for the goods – or pay your little sister to play through it to unlock all the good weapons and characters and stuff. That way you'll be getting the best out of the game by beefing up multiplayer and the best out of the Madballs by annoying your sister. Everybody wins!

Madballs in...Babo:Invasion was developed by PlayBrains for Xbox Live Arcade. Released July 15, 2009 for 800 Microsoft points. Played both single-player campaign and multiplayer.

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