radiangames Fireball

Dodge, Trigger, Destroy! Be the Fireball as you set off huge explosion combos across 8 waves and 4 unique challenges. Compare your scores to the best in the world using the online scoreboards. Fireball is the fifth game in the radiangames series.

The mines and snowballs from radiangames Inferno return in radiangames Fireball, a game Developer Luke Schneider describes as "Geometry Wars 2's Pacifism mode evolved and expanded into a whole game." Whereas Geometry Wars and Radiangames' own JoyJoy are twinstick shooters, Geometry Wars 2's "Pacifism mode" takes the shooting half of that formula out from the genre, rewarding players for their ability to dodge threats for as long as possible without firing a single shot. The catch is that while the ship itself may not be able to destroy the enemies, it can fly through gates scattered about to release short bombs, vaporizing anything in the vincinity. Although Pacifism is just one of six modes found in Geometry Wars 2, it's arguably the best of the bunch and now finds itself the sole focus of Fireball, a game which takes the concept and improves upon it immeasurably.

Players control a fireball in an enclosed arena, dodging all threats and triggering mines to defend itself. While the fireball itself dies when it makes contact with anything including the mines, it is impervious to the explosions detonated mines release. Unlike the gates in Geometry Wars 2 which are deadly at the end poles and must be flown through in the manner the gate dictates, the "gates" of Fireball are much more user friendly, mines which are able to be set off whenever the ship nears their "trigger field," allowing for much smoother gameplay. How annoying is it in Pacifism to weave through a cluster of enemies only to have the gate not lined up properly and blocking the path out when it's there to provide support? The mines in Fireball work far better, letting plays whiz by from any direction, igniting the charge without need to wait for some random floating gate to decide to position itself so that the ship can pass. Not having to worry about the arbitrary movements of the ship's bomb caretakers allows the player to focus on the actual bullet hording aspect which makes such pacifist runs in shooters such as Ikaruga and the aforementioned enjoyable without diminishing the challenge to be had. Unlike Geometry Wars 2's gates, the mines do not detonate immediately, instead pulsating for a little over a second before blowing up. It's a nice trade-off, and the delayed timer increases the challenge in creating large destruction combo chains.

The other big improvement found in Fireball comes due to its excellent graphics. No more flying through a gate and blowing up a purple vector only to have it explode into smaller, more difficult to spot vectors which will destroy the ship. Everything in Fireball is clearly visible on screen thanks to large, crisp sprites and a solid background. While Fireball may lack the visual special effects seen in the Bizarre Creations' hit, Fireball is no slouch when it comes to graphics, sporting that trademark shiny, rubbery style first seen in Radiangames' Inferno. It should be little surprise seeing how the mines and snowballs look lifted directly from Inferno, shifting, organic looking masses which would impress the player if he or she wasn't so busy fighting to stay alive and focusing on the empty bits of the board for safety. Ice cubes and other additions such as the fireball's beautiful comet tail look excellent, and though the explosions from the nova bombs created from getting a 50 or higher combo aren't quite as compelling, the resulting boom gets the job done while keeping the field visible (a plus). Fireball's sparks (re: Geometry Wars 2's Geoms) left behind from destroyed enemies are easy to spot their neon orange color against the dark blue background, and I love how the field is used to keep track of the score, the time, and other details to reduce HUD clutter. Finally, I'm grateful for the rounded edges of the field which have proved an invaluable addition to a game in which speed is everything.

Surviving needs speed, and Radiangames' Fireball has added one final wrinkle to the Pacifist concept: a boost button. Players can utilize a limited boost charge to dart through the mobs, allowing for more daring escapes and hording tactics. The boost feels perfect, engaging the player well beyond Geometry Wars 2's auxiliary mode of play. Fireball also marks Radiangames' first title with global scoreboards, an addition which will extend the game's life indefinitely for those who enjoy chasing high scores and seeing just how well they can do. Fireball offers eight waves of action and four bonus challenges, each with its own score board complete with a simple interface which allows players to find their scores easily and page through the rest. If I had one gripe, then it would be the lack of an infinite mode as all options are timed in some manner be it by a clock or by some objective limit. In the normal mode of play, the game advances through the waves as the player destroys certain amounts of enemies, and once that final enemy is destroyed on the eighth wave, the game ends. I may not be good enough to clear all eight waves without dying, but I'm sure some of those top listed players are that good, and it would be great to see a mode which would fully test their limits.

Radiangames Fireball is an excellent game just as Luke Schneider's other four releases, but he's really nailed it here by focusing on a simple concept and enhancing the gameplay so well that it outshines the original. The quick restart option belies the addictive nature of the game, and the clean menu design ensures that eager players can dive right into the action. With an exciting soundtrack, terrific graphics, and addictive play, Fireball is a wonderfully executed idea and a needed purchase by any Geometry Wars or arcade fan out there.

November 14, 2010
November 11, 2010 | 80 points
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