Roll, blast, and fight your way to victory in this hectic top down wave shooter by Whale Peak Games. Go Mecha Ball is hectic, fast, and fun. While slowly unlocking upgrades and new characters, you’ll also improve how you fight. Will you be able to make it through the waves of enemies and save your world from the dastardly glitch monsters?
Go Mecha Ball is one of those games focused on its mechanics, not its story. I remember first following the developer when it was a simple ball rolling around and bumping into other objects. It’s been a long journey, but it’s been a real treat to see the changes that took place. Story-wise, you play as a cat humanoids who escaped underground to avoid the evil monsters on the planet’s surface. It’s up to you to take these monsters down with your cool rolling mech. The story is really flavor text as to why you’re battling robots. I wish the robots were a little more integrated into the story, or if there were small bits of story to tie each run together.
Go Mecha Ball is a roguelite, where your money and health is reset with each playthrough, but you earn a different currency that unlocks more powerups to be available throughout the game. After completing a level (that has three waves each) you are rewarded by choosing one of three powerups to boost yourself for next time. Part of me feels like there’s too much randomness in choosing what upgrades to add to the game. You can’t choose any of the upgrades you add, so no way to craft the game to your play style, and you end up diluting the upgrades with throwaway choices. I believe the ideology was that each upgrade was roughly equal in worth. A lot of the time the secondary moves don’t feel too beneficial, but perhaps I’m a bad player. Comparing the secondary moves to what you could get upgraded always feels like it’s more worth to upgrade. Choosing and swapping weapons also feels fiddly. I wish there was some way where the weapon toggle and swap would fit in the flow of gameplay easier. Weapons don’t autoswap when you run out of bullets, and some weapons allow you to hold the trigger down while others require you to keep pressing it.
I’m mixed on the level design. Go Mecha Ball requires you to learn its mechanics to win the game, That means utilizing speed boosters and bounce pads when necessary. The problem I think Go Mecha Ball has is its verticality. Moving to various heights in the level can be frustrating because it seems like your character is too floaty and stays in the air too long. The game is trying to hit a natural rolling and firing flow, but jumping on bounce pads and being lifted by fans breaks the flow when you’re trying to aim for a character on a small ledge. I started to mentally check out when the level turned into a big open area with clusters of enemies spread out on multi tiered platforms. As much as the game wants you to get into a flow of battling enemies, the levels feel like they’re fighting against you.
The character design in Go Mecha Ball is a cool mash of robotics and animals. The heroes are bionic cats, while the enemies are all evil bugs. This distinction makes it easy to tell your character from the enemies while the game is getting busy. Some parts of the world are this “tacky” neon that doesn’t fit Go Mecha Ball as well, and/or doesn’t highlight the right part of the object it’s trying to highlight. The user experience is also kind of rough. The way the hub world is set up makes it seem like you have to do the tutorial every single time to start the game. The holes to fall into to be transported to different parts of the map should have a slightly highlighted ring around them so they don’t blend into the scenery. Parts of Go Mecha Ball are unexplained, like unlocking a different character. There’s an image of the mech above the button to spend money on, but with no reference point I’m unsure what this button does. The menu buttons are also tiny for no reason besides a possible scaling issue.
In summary: Solid gameplay with elements to make it replayable. Some annoying level design that breaks the flow of Go Mecha Ball, but the overall experience and wanting to improve your next run makes the flaws easy to overlook.
Jordan played Go Mecha Ball on PC with a review code.