Fireball SE Review

Fireball SE Review

Jun 24, 2013

Radiangames continues its assault on Android after earlier releases of puzzle games Slydris and CRUSH with one of the one-man studio’s action-oriented games: Fireball SE. An upgraded port of the Xbox Live Indie Games title Fireball, this is an arena survival game where the goal is to try and outmaneuver waves of enemies who will swarm together and come after the player, because of reasons.

The immediate similarity is Pacifism mode from Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, where the game got entirely shifted from a dual-stick shooter to a frantic survival game, where hitting certain targets and managing waves of enemies became the goal. Fireball SE follows in that basic tradition, but varies largely in that the way one dispatches enemies has some strategy to it. Red glowing ‘mines’ are laid all about the arena, and they will explode immediately on contact. However, if coming in proximity with them, they’ll go off on a delayed release. The advantage in doing so? More enemies may be in proximity to a delayed mine if planned properly, as it could be in the middle of a giant group of enemies. . Also, when using a mine to take out fifty-plus enemies simultaneously, a nova mine gets left behind, which has a wider range than the standard mines. Of course, activating a mine right away might help eliminate an immediate threat, or help set off a chain reaction of mines to take out a wide swath of enemies.

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There’s a lot that goes on in Fireball SE with its mechanics, and that’s without even mentioning the ‘meltdown’ ability to slow down time that gets replenished with the glowing bits that enemies drop. There’s any number of variations with which to enjoy Fireball SE: Waves, a level progression mode; Countdown, a collection of time-limited modes; finally, Survival, a collection of endless modes. Each contains different variations on the theme, such as different level shapes, and enemy behaviors. They make perhaps slight differences, but at least they serve as different ways to enjoy the game.

The virtual joystick that powers movement in Fireball SE is not the best, as I’ve died several times due to small adjustments not quite going the way I expected to. Such imperfections are to be expected from virtual joysticks, I suppose, but it does serve as a frustrating element. One suggestion would be gamepad support, of course. The visuals are minimalistic, serving just their purpose, but there’s something about the backgrounds where none of the color choices really ever feels right. More options, or the ability to customize player and enemy colors would help.

While it’s hardly an artistic breakthrough, Fireball SE‘s arena survival gameplay is exceptional. Definitely worth checking out.