It feels like a lifetime ago where having the option to get your mates around for some local multiplayer action was a staple of any game release. Instead, nowadays it feels more of a quirky feature where online functionality has become the primary multiplayer focus. There are some exceptions to this, mainly over at Nintendo, with games such as the excellent Mario Party series still attracting huge numbers of fans with every release.
That’s the game that instantly springs to mind when you boot up FuzzBall. Similarly, it’s a local multiplayer party game aimed at all ages (it will mainly appeal to kids however). Unfortunately, that’s just about where the common elements end.
FuzzBall (which is named very closely to the table football game) has six playable characters which are spherical animal plush toys. One of the little guys is actually called “Bort”, which amused me to no end. If you know, you know. The action plays out over seven arenas all set within the typical household. You can play FuzzBall solo, or with friends locally, but there is no online play available.
Right from the off, when you hit the title menu it’s quite striking how poor the graphics are. This isn’t too obvious from the trailer, however in game it looks no better than a PC game from the early noughties. The characters themselves, or FuzzBalls, are quite cutesy, but otherwise it’s all jagged edges with a very basic level of detail.
There are three modes of play in FuzzBall: Vs Mode, Party Mode and Flexiball. In Vs mode you simply have to bash you rivals off the stage and become the “last man standing”. You can charge and jump as well as move about to dodge your opponents, but that is about all there is to it. These matches will barely last minutes, but this is one of only three modes included. For comparison, in Super Monkey Ball (released nearly 20 years ago) this game was included as a multiplayer mini-game aside from the main game altogether. Definitely not “value for money”.
The second way to play, Party Mode, is probably the best of the lot. Here, you’ll have to complete various “missions” to earn points, but there are essentially hazards that you will need to avoid. This mode shows a little more imagination and variety, and you can choose whether to try and complete the missions or just be a right pain in the ball and get in everyone else’s way.
Finally, in Flexiball players are required to co-operate to “perform the rule”. Essentially, different bubbles with character attributes and actions will litter the stage and players then have to act accordingly against the clock. However, due to some very poor grammar, it can be quite confusing at first to figure out what the game is asking of you. It might just be me, but I don’t fancy the chances for the five year old players out there.
The biggest issue I have with Fuzzball is the price. It will cost you £15.49 on the Xbox Store. I found very little on offer here for solo players, however the game is clearly meant to be played with others. This being so, because the brawling gameplay is so simple, and the overall variation between modes lacks ambition, I can’t imagine anyone over the age of five spending more than an hour with FuzzBall.
FuzzBall on Xbox One ends up a pale imitation of those who have done the “party game” so much better in the past. This, coupled with the unjustifiable price tag, makes it one I simply cannot recommend.