Review: Fireball (Atari 2600)

In this review, we play the action puzzle game Fireball to see what this game was all about.

This game was released in 1982 and plays a lot like Breakout.

The objective seems to be to remove as many blocks as possible by hitting your ball against them. contained in various pockets are additional balls to help you clear out more blocks at a time. While this seems to initially be a great thing, you quickly realize that this is both helpful and makes the game extremely difficult quickly.

You have to position your person along the bottom to catch the balls. You can hit the button to fire the ball back up yourself or, eventually, that person will just fire the ball back up automatically. If yo drop the ball, you lose a life. If you have more than one ball in play, then you have to keep all of them in play. If you drop even one, you lose a life.

Another limitation to keep in mind is the fact that you can only hold up to two balls at the same time. Presumably, the idea being, one for each hand. If you try and catch a third ball, then you drop one and lose a life.

A helpful strategy seems to be that you hit as many blocks as possible without releasing a second ball. Then, when you have to, you more or less have to juggle them so you don’t have the issue of catching them all at the same time.

Because the game can be so short-lived, it isn’t a problem to play several times before getting bored of it. Unfortunately, this game tends to be so short-lived, the gameplay itself becomes tedious quick.

The other thing that is odd was the use of the hook when you lose a life. Game play stops immediately and the hook pulls you off the screen. To my knowledge, the hook is typically used on actors on stage, not necessarily athletes. If you find yourself on the right hand side of the screen, the hook takes longer to reach you and pull you off the playing field. While I’m sure it was an attempt at humor in some small way, I don’t think it really worked here.

Graphically, this game was OK for a game of its time. The character was nicely drawn, but the dimensions of other things like the score are a little wide and distorted. The hook was the only other object that was even decently drawn. Beyond that, there wasn’t much to the game.

The sound effects were OK. It was interesting to hear the beeps increase to a higher pitch when the score goes up particularly quickly, but that’s about it. The intro sound effect was interesting.

Overall, some might point out that this is really just a Breakout clone. I can say that this is a fair criticism, though you get something different than a simple paddle. The rules are a bit on the difficult side and the games are extremely short at times. While an interesting concept, it’s not entirely original. An OK play for the few minutes it takes to play.


High Score: 1870

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 4/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 54%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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