NFL players make too much
money. Two things will happen according to Cyberball that will change that:
1. If they don't get a first down, they die.
2. They'll all be replaced by robots.
That's the rather grim reality of this futuristic sports game, a pseudo sequel to the
original arcade game from 1989. It's missing quite a bit, and that will irk long time
fans. Those who never experienced that cabinets duel-screen goodness will find this
portable sports title a blast.
The rules of the future are of course different. There are seven players on field now, and
different styles of robots are perfect for different positions. There are no downs. The
ball continually gets hotter as you try for a first down. Either you make it past the
line, or you blow up. There is no punting or field goals. Extra points are secured by what
we currently refer to as two point conversions.
A lot of the strategy has been lost here. The teams are alike in every way, except for
their respective playbooks. That puts people on equal ground, but leads to gameplay
problems. It's far easier for the computer to intercept passes for some reason and there
seems to be some speed advantages at work here.
Passing in this slightly tilted viewpoint is simple, and it works better than it sounds.
You can throw to one of three pre-determined locations. Once the ball is thrown, players
control the receivers to get them to the spot they need to be. The cheesy digitized voices
let you know if it's worked. Up to four players can indulge in this one at once, so these
tasks can be spread out.
Design flaws are apparent, notably the money issue. Upgraded
players can be purchased when the opportunity (both financial and computer generated)
arise. This gives the currently winning team a huge advantage, and squashes any chance of
a classic John Elway-styled comeback. The running game is tough because of the indistinct
graphics, slow pace, and tackles that occur before contact is actually made.
On a console, that would be enough to designate this game as a disaster. On the Lynx
however, it just seems to work. It's fun to play in short bursts (even if you don't make
it through all six quarters) and the quirks in the design are not that bothersome. Tournament
Cyberball's unique spin on the sport is worth the asking price alone, and if you can
find multiple players, this could very well turn into a personal classic.