Madballs in Babo Invasion for Xbox live arcade game has legs and balls. MiBi is a top-down and third-person shooter built on the “Brain Candy” engine developed by Playbrains in Ottawa, Canada. This game shows fantastic depth, not just as an XBLA title, but, with its full set of features, as a competitor to retail games.

The characters in the environment blast through the levels with pinball-like physics as they roll, spin, and bounce their way through frantic arcade action. The weapons pack a big punch both in damage and recoil and its quite entertaining to see little Babo’s like “Eidolon” catapulted backwards when firing the railgun-like “Beamer.”

Each of the 10 unique characters has two powerful special abilities, and is a member of one of 5 classes, each with different movement speeds, a durability, a vulnerability and a strength. Players can take advantage of their enemies weaknesses by choosing the right weapon mode for the job.

Every weapon features two modes of fire, dealing different damage types like Heat, Cold, Energy and Impact. Naturally, certain characters and weapons combine well, and finding the best loadout combinations adds a ton of longevity and depth to a game that still has a pick up and play feel of a classic arcade gaming experience.

We asked John Harley, a Game Designer at Playbrains, which features of the game the team is most proud of:

#1: 4 player coop, which lets players play either faction through the 10 level campaign, with difficulty that automatically scales up in response to player count.

#2: Avatar mode, which allows you to play a competitive shooter game with your own XBox Live Avatar Head!

#3: Invasion game mode, which starts with each team building half a map and then deploying their base, followed by a combat phase which sees teams battle for territorial control and destruction of their opponent’s base.

Challenge mode, available in singleplayer and 4 player co-op, sees the player choose either the noble BDI team or the evil Scorched splinter group and fight through 10 levels, chasing a shadowy Merc faction and fighting to collect a powerful relic. There is also a Level Attack mode that focuses on the arcade-style scoring system and had me playing again and again to boost my score.

Avatar mode was a riot, as I saw my Xbox Live Avatar put through the “Deacappuccino Machine” and enter a free-for-all player-versus-player game. As my Avatar head was riddled with bullets and set on fire I was surprised to learn that there is little else in our heads than confetti! Playbrains has wisely chosen to show no blood, guts or gore when playing in avatar mode, earning them a ESRB game rating of E10+.

I also played a few games of the namesake “Invasion Mode”. Teams are presented with a unique mini-game that sees players take turns building a map. Each player places randomly selected map tiles on a board, much like in the XBLA boardgame Carcassone. Once the map is complete, there is a quick team vote to place a base and some control points and the map is dynamically built before your eyes.

Teams battle across this new map, stealing control points and trying to destroy their opponent’s base. Every time you play this mode the map is going to be completely new, because there are more than 150 tiles but only a couple dozen are used each time. This completely bowled us over with the degree of depth and innovation, and is something we’ve never seen before in any game.

Overall, its easy to forget that I am previewing a 1200 point game for XBLA and not a full retail release. In this short preview, we still have not seen the whole game and all its features. Madballs in Babo: Invasion will set a new high watermark for digitally downloaded titles and is looking like a Game of the Year contender already!

MadBalls in Babo: Invasion comes to Xbox Live Marketplace July 15, 2009.

Jason Creation – Want to learn more about Playbrains and MadBalls in Babo:Invasion Preview, then look no further.

Article from Part 1 of my personal Top 10 Xbox Live Arcade Games for Xbox 360. Video capture, commentary and editing by James Woodcock
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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