It’s always a marvel when we find a game designer working on a new arcade indie game. Just like with Cosmotrons, which we’ve talked about on several occasions, a new developer has been hard at work, pursuing his dream of creating an arcade game. The name of the project is Deathball and, as of today, is now available for interested arcade operators – or collectors – to order via the game’s website.
It all started almost two years ago when Tony Hauber, then working in San Francisco, broke off from his job to focus entirely on Deathball, his arcade game. After almost seven months of hard work and silence, the developer resurfaced on the r/gaming subreddit with a post announcing his progress on the title that he had been working on. Specifically, the post mentioned how the very first prototype was launched and made available to play in San Francisco’s Brewcade, a popular spot that combines arcade games and handcrafted beers to provide a truly awesome gaming experience.
On launch night, the game saw a lot of activity as patrons lined up to try it out, setting it up for a solid start. This success behind this interest boils down to the game’s simplistic concept which is defined by DeathBall creator thus: “Two wizards, one ball, one bubble, one button, lots of possibilities.” Sure, that seems like a mouthful when you say it out loud, but it perfectly sums up Deathball’s gameplay, and we’ll show you why.
What is DeathBall?
In a nutshell, DeathBall is a game where two wizards face off in a match of platform soccer. However, since we’re certain that this description is not nearly enough to do it justice, let’s dive a little deeper.
The game is played in matches where the objective is to control one of two wizards, and push a ball into the opponent’s goal. Both wizards are identical to each other and can be told apart from their auras, which are either green or purple. In this sense, the players know where to score judging by the colors of their aura—they need to push the ball into the goal of the same color.
From what we could gather by watching the gameplay footage, every match lasts until either player’s HP runs out, which is represented by the green and purple health bars on each side of the screen. Every time a player scores, the other wizard is zapped, taking away one bar of HP. Furthermore, there are at least 2 stages to choose from, which can help to keep things fresh for both vets and newcomers alike.
Nevertheless, the biggest draw of this new title is the gameplay itself which, like many other indie arcade games, is very easy to pick up, yet difficult to master.
The controls couldn’t be any simpler: you move around with the joystick and jump with the button. However, this is where the easy times end and the real challenge begins. Each wizard is big enough so that actually touching the ball is easy enough for gamers of all skills levels. However, just like Arkanoid, the ball is launched to the opposite of where your wizard strikes it. In this sense, while hitting the ball is easy, the real difficulty comes from accurately placing the shots on target.
If you press the button while in mid-air, your wizard will execute a double jump, which allows you to reach further to catch the ball, especially after it’s been launched at high speeds. However, the use of this double jump is twofold: on one hand, you can reach higher than with your standard jump and, on the other, every time you press the button in the air, you summon a bubble that stays hovering in midair. This bubble in quintessential for setting up plays and defending your goal as it deflects the ball if it comes into contact with it. You can press the button as many times as you want in the air to summon a new bubble, though this comes at the cost of despawning the previous bubble. Furthermore, you can only execute one extra jump in midair, regardless of the number of bubbles that you summon.
DeathBall’s simple gameplay makes it an awesome competitive game for social settings, especially in places like barcades or other establishments where young adults and older crowds gather. It’s definitely not a game that appeals to the younger audiences, though this doesn’t stop the little ones from enjoying a few rounds. Furthermore, the cabinet’s simplistic black design with sparse artwork, except in the control panel and marquee, makes it easy for it to pass undiscovered, which partly why we’re talking about it just now. Nevertheless, it’s an awesome title that promises hundreds of hours of fun and virtually infinite replay value due to its competitive gameplay. We just hope that, as time passes and the game matures, it receives the attention it rightly deserves.
What started as a pet project for developer Tony Hauber, turned into reality in just a few years of hard work. If you’re interested in the project, feel free to explore their website, where you’ll find more information about the product. Here, you will find everything you need to know about Deathball, including more information, gameplay footage, and even links where you can preorder your very own cabinet.
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