Publisher: Proponent Games
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Casual, Indie
Platform: PC (also available on the Nintendo Switch)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 05/03/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Brick Breaking the Ice
Antonball Deluxe is an interesting mix between Breakout and a traditional platformer. Do these two genres come together to create something beautiful or do they crash and burn? Find out in this Rapid Review.
As I booted up the game for the first time, I was initially impressed by the overwhelming selection of modes. There was Antonball, Punchball, and Antonball Versus. Moreover, there was an online option and a section designated for extras. I was impressed.
I decided to start out with Antonball, as that is the namesake of the game. It played largely as I expected. I moved and dashed around from left to right to get where I needed to go. Plus, I jumped on platforms to prevent the ball from leaving my screen when I could not otherwise reach it. The controls felt good, and I liked moving through the stages, even if there were not too many things to master. Despite the simplicity, the concept is fun, especially once I first started playing.
However, as I continued, I found myself less interested in the new obstacles, especially since I was not given any new upgrades to overcome them. The newly implemented hazards seemed to make the game more difficult for the sake of being more difficult. For example, as levels progressed, I encountered more frustratingly placed indestructible blocks. Typically, I have no problems facing challenges and I enjoy any adversity that requires me to adapt and implement new strategies into my repertoire. Unfortunately, this obstacle and many of the obstacles in Antonball did not change my decision-making at all. Instead, I just had to survive longer in each stage and return the deflected balls as I waited for an opening.
While I was certainly disappointed that the puzzles did not push me to reevaluate my thought process throughout the levels, I did still end up enjoying Antonball and had fun completing the thirty levels in the campaign.
What’s in this Punch?
After completing Antonball, I was a bit worried that Punchball would also fail to motivate me to evaluate each situation. Thankfully, I was completely incorrect. Instead of the classic brick-breaking formula, this game had me carrying a ball around and throwing it a short distance. Plus, I was not taking out bricks anymore. This time, I was fighting enemies. Since I was carrying the ball and throwing it exactly when I wanted to, I had substantially more control over the ball than before. Additionally, the controls were just as responsive as in Antonball. I enjoyed how much control I had over my character in Punchball.
Moreover, the level designs were significantly more interesting. This time, the enemies and hazards seemed to counter me in a way where I could adjust and plan accordingly. For example, one enemy is a little mitten. When he faced me, he caught the ball and threw it back at me. However, if I attacked him from behind, he did not see it coming and died a miserable death. Small implementations like that one made Punchball a lot of fun. I enjoyed traversing its thirty levels.
The versus mode and online modes were less fun. However, this was at no fault of the creators. Since the game is over a year old, the online service did not have any challengers every time I logged on. While I am not going to hold this against Antonball Deluxe, it is important to recognize that these modes are practically useless unless you know someone personally to play with or want to play locally.
On the other hand, I enjoyed how both of those games were broken up into different segments. I could begin with any of the pseudo-chapter markers that I wanted, so it made Antonball Deluxe much more accessible and fun. At the same time, I could try to tackle the whole game at once and aim for a high score. These options made the game accessible and engaging to me, providing multiple opportunities and ways to encourage my success.
In addition to the gameplay, there were plenty of overarching elements in Antonball Deluxe that improved the experience. First, in between each chapter, there are brief cutscenes that give a bit of personality to each of the characters. This was certainly less than an involving story, but I found that it made these segments even more impactful. They were concise, to the point, and charming.
Moreover, there were unlockable characters to play as. These were also very charming, and I appreciated being able to personalize my experience. I was even delighted to see some crossover characters from other flash games. These made Antonball Deluxe a lot more fun too.
In addition to the personality in the cutscenes and selectable characters, I enjoyed lovely music and sound effects. Again, these made Antonball Deluxe like an old arcade game, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were even unlockable sound samples to hear in the extras menu. I appreciated the music a lot.
The visuals were solid as well. The stages, while not overwhelmingly eye-catching or impressive looked good and the enemy designs were adequate as well. The Punchball enemies were standout here, as they were distinct in both action and visual style. Still, while I was not necessarily gripped by the visuals, they did look good.
Unfortunately, while the game had a lot of great things, it had some considerable malfunctions. First, I am not sure what engine the game is running on, but some of the Steam features did not work. I was unable to take screenshots with my bound input. Further, whenever I got a notification on my computer, Antonball would reduce to a minuscule size and I would have to force quit the game, sometimes during the middle of a game. Finally, the game also did freeze once unrelated to that and that time I had to restart my whole computer, as even Task Manager could not be opened. While these were infrequent, they were frustrating.
Overall, while I enjoyed playing through Antonball Deluxe there was a lot that was missing. I enjoyed Punchball, but Antonball was quite lacklustre. Moreover, while there are a lot of quality-of-life features, the core experience needed to be a bit more fine-tuned to make me excited to come back. Finally, the game is quite short and while there is some solid fun to be had, it is not something I am running out to recommend.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
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