Since the dawn of gaming, balls have been a big feature in the medium we all know and love. Games like Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball showed us that precision ball rolling is a hell of a lot of fun, and sports games sell millions of copies thanks to all those sport ball lovers out there. Now balls are back to dominate a new genre, the Roguelike, thanks to the twin stick action of Go Mecha Ball.
The concept of Go Mecha Ball is incredibly simple. You play as a ball shaped character armed with a gun, and are flung into arenas and expected to survive against waves of robotic enemies. After you survive an arena you’ll be teleported to the next one and given a new upgrade to boost your power. Blast enough bots and bosses to bits and you’ll succeed in beating a run, but if your health runs out then it’s back to the hub area to start again.
As a ball based character, movement is pretty damn fluid in Go Mecha Ball. Rolling about feels as satisfying as I was hoping it would, with the ability to boost by holding the triggers and all manner of bounce pads and half pipes littering the arena to take advantage of. It won’t take you long to start dodging and weaving your way between bullets, and you’ll always feel like a badass when you do.
Moving around is all well and good, but you won’t get very far in Go Mecha Ball if you don’t unload some bullets into the baddies. Using your guns is as simple as pointing and shooting, and there’s a variety of options to suit your playstyle. From rapid fire machine guns to devastating close range spread shots there’s something you’re bound to click with in the arsenal, especially once you unlock more guns between runs.
The best thing about combat in Go Mecha Ball doesn’t have anything to do with the guns though, it’s actually that boost ability you have. By boosting directly into an enemy you’ll deal damage by slamming into them, and if they’re readying an attack you’ll also stop them from firing it altogether. Because of this combat is a beautiful flowing dance that involves you bouncing from enemy to enemy to prevent bullets flying at you, and it cannot be overstated how good it feels.
Although the enemies and arenas are somewhat randomised, the main element of Go Mecha Ball that brings out that mixed-up Roguelike flavour are the upgrades and abilities. There are simple upgrades you’ll see often such as boosting your gun damage and raising your max HP, but there also more exciting ones like refreshing the cooldown on your boost if you use it to kill an enemy for exciting murder pinball action. The abilities you can acquire are fantastic too, and can be used as much as you want as long as their short cooldown isn’t active. Whether it’s a ground pound or a path of proximity mines, these awesome skills can really help deal with the waves of robots that want you dead.
After emptying a few stages of robots you’ll be taken to a shop where you can buy a couple of new upgrades, healing items and even new characters, and then it’s time to take on a boss. It’s maybe a little disappointing that the bosses are the same on every run, but learning how best to deal with the massive attacks of each of these robotic monstrosities is a lot of fun and I never really tired of seeing them pop up for another head to head encounter.
Go Mecha Ball is an absolutely great game, but there’s one thing that holds it back from the tippity top tier of Roguelikes. When you first start the game the amount of unlocked guns and abilities that are available is nowhere near enough, and it means that the first few hours you spend with the game will involve pretty much the exact same gear on every single run. Between runs you’ll be able to start adding a few new bits and bobs (thanks to a currency you earn as you go), but it just takes too long for that pool of options to get deep enough for the variety I wanted.
Go Mecha Ball is a wonderful twin stick Roguelike, with some great ideas and truly bombastic gameplay. It takes a little too long to unlock enough options to vary up each run, but once I reached that point I was hooked. If tight and frantic arcadey gameplay is what you want from your Roguelikes, then Go Mecha Ball is an incredibly easy recommendation.
Fast paced twin stick fun
Using the boost ability to cancel enemy attacks feels amazing
Has some great gun and ability options
Really fluid movement
Not enough weapons and abilities unlocked initially
Would be better with more boss variety