Wizball was one of the very first games I ever played on my Amiga A500. It came as part of the Ten Star Games Pack in 1990, and always stood out as one of the most unusual games in there.
Today Wizball hasn’t lost any of its appeal, and considering it was made in 1987, it has aged very well, especially in terms of playability.
I remember roaring with laughter the first time the game loaded, and I was presented with a green bouncing ball – with a face – which was really difficult to control. It took me ages to work the game out. Of course, once you do, and you get past the initial frustration of bouncing into the enemy, then the game quickly becomes very playable and very addictive.
Essentially, all the colour has been sucked out of the land by the bad guys. It’s up to you – the Wizard and his trusty Cat, to restore colour. Wizard and Cat have transformed into orbitals for the occasion – a very original idea.
Through collecting the spheres that enemies leave behind, you can choose special powers. Once you’ve selected the options for full ball control, upper and lower surround lasers and your floating Cat companion, you’re on a roll – going between levels, sucking up the colour from the strange floating snake things and filling your Red, Green and Blue cauldrons in order to restore colour to each level.
Each time you fill one of the colour cauldrons, you’re whizzed off to a bonus level, followed by a visit to the Wizlab, where Wizard and
Cat are restored to human and animal form for some magical trickery. Here lies the key to succeeding in the game, as it is during each Wizlab visit that you can select which special powers become permanent – once you’ve selected full ball control, surround lasers and Cat, you’re setup for the rest of the game.I remember completing Wizball for the first time on two player mode, but single player mode is just as fun, as you can control the Cat at the critical moments. It can be quite tricky at first, and it is a game that I found much easier to play using keyboard controls rather than a joystick in terms of precision.
Despite it’s repetitiveness it is good fun, but also particularly tough in places, especially if you back yourself into a corner when an attack wave comes, or if you haven’t stabilised your Wizball when you lose a life. Sprite collision is generally good, but sometimes, you can be firing like a maniac and an enemy still manages to hurtle into you.I still love everything about Wizball; the graphics, the music, sound effects, sprite designs, etc. The overall game concept is great. My love for Wizball may be because of the fond memories attached to it, but almost 30 years later it is one of those games that, despite the technological limitations of the day, still has a certain allure and stands up well as an Amiga classic.