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Nerf ArenaBlast

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Visionary Media

GAME PUBLISHER:Atari Games

Copyright 1999, Visionary Media

Best described as Unreal Tournament for kids, Nerf ArenaBlast is a surprisingly fun first-person shooter that will appeal to both kids and adults. I say “surprising” because it is hard to imagine that a FPS without violence could be fun – after all, that is a big attraction for games like Half-Life and Max Payne. But developer Visionary Media succeeds in crafting a non-violent FPS that is not only fun but also addictive and highly replayable.

Based on Hasbro’s popular “Nerf gun” toy line, Nerf ArenaBlast offers three modes of play that are very original as far as FPS games go. “PointBlast” is best described as Deathmatch without blood; “SpeedBlast” is a unique way-point race; and “BallBlast” is a cool hybrid of PointBlast and SpeedBlast, combining corridor shoot-em-up and colored-target tagging into a fun and challenging experience. There is no blood or gore during gameplay, but you do end up “vaporizing” opponents: each player wears an energy suit, and when energy levels fall to zero players are knocked out of the game. Fortunately, you can re-charge your suit during play using power-ups scattered on each map.

Each weapon in the game is the variation of “Nerf gun,” Hasbro’s popular toy that is stocked in Toys R Us everywhere. The variations are creative and a lot of fun: “The Sidewinder” for example spits little foam discs which can be optionally handled like guided missiles. In short, Nerf ArenaBlast offers as robust a weapon selection as any serious FPS game, only “sillified” and essentially harmless.

Built on the same engine that powers Unreal Tournament, Nerf ArenaBlast looks very good – just as you would expect. The levels are very well-designed, and the controls are easy to learn. The game has a nice training area to familiarize new players with the controls, as well as a versatile map editor you can use to create your own maps and mods. Since it’s based on Unreal technology, you can access the usual Unreal options – including creating new bots to use for multiplayer games.

While the game’s “for kids” tag may turn off die-hard FPS fans at first, Nerf ArenaBlast packs enough gameplay to keep both kids and adults entertained. If you like FPS games but are put off by gratuitous violence, or if you are just curious about how a non-violent FPS can be done, look no further than this underrated classic. Nerf ArenaBlast is a true “family shooter” in every sense of the word. Brilliant.



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