Flex those finger muscles baby
In 21st centuary sport has moved out of the stadiums and arenas and onto the streets. A new global phenomenom is born, Flexball will test of your concentration, reactions and patience to the max.
31, the magic number
If you've ever played any kind of tennis game you'll get the idea of this game very quickly. Play either against the computer or pit your wits against a friend in the two player option. The aim of the game is to hit the streetlight behind your opponent 31 (surely a random number!) times. The ball goes back and forth between the two characters, miss your timing and you'll get one point against you. There are 5 control keys, low, high and fast hits, jump to reach those tricky sky high balls and finally, my favourite, the special force attack! There are 14 different characters to chose from each with different styles and slick animations. Special moves include flicking the ball back with their hair or using shopping bags to send it flying towards your opponent.
Give tennis the elbow
The first thing you'll notice when you load up Flexball is that it looks great. It combines gritty, black and white photographic images and smooth character animation very well and gives the game a very stylised look. Unfortunately when you choose a new character the frames have to be loaded into the game. This is a good idea as it cuts down on the initial load time but its a shame that you can begin a round in Flexball before the character is in place. You may find yourself sitting looking at the play area without any contestants, they soon pop up but it can confuse you the first time you play.
Sound is ok, just a few spot effects here and there and a voice shouting 'go'. All in the right places but not inspiring.
There are a lot of games like this around. Pong, tennis, they come with different names but essentially play pretty much the same. The best of these games are the ones where you feel in total control, you know what you need to do and you have confidence that you can do what you want, when you want to do it. The main problem with Flexball is I found it a little unresponsive, you get used to it but there is a delay from when you press a key to when your character actually hits the ball. You could argue that this is the whole point of the game, getting your timing right but I just felt it detracted a little from the gameplay.
Oh so Flexi-ball
Flexball is a good, well executed game. The look is very strong, the main gimmick being the little men and women batting, flicking and lobbing the ball very smoothly with such flair. There's a good range to choose from but essentially it really is just cosmetic, they all play the same. If the polish was all stripped away you wont find much of a game underneath but find a friend (if you internet types have one!) and it could keep you out of trouble for an hour or so.