January 23, 2019
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Strange Flavour
Release Date

July 16, 2001 | Michael Eilers

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There is a old theory (advanced by a certain famous director) that all movies are based on a small handful of plot devices or stories, and all films can be traced back to these sources; similarly, many a pundit has theorized that there are only a certain number of gaming concepts behind video games and all modern games spring from the seeds of their progenitors. Sometimes the shameless repetition of an old idea is grounds for scorn, especially if the creator can’t bring anything new to a tired concept; but on some occasions an old source can give rise to a fresh approach and a new experience. Aaron Fothergill has done this successfully with his game Bushfire, and now he attempts to repeat this feat with Strange Flavour’s latest title, AirBurst.

Any of you that are old enough (or have parents old enough) to remember the Atari 2600 must recall the innovative “puck” controllers that made such classics as Pong (and later Tennis) playable in your own home. These unique controllers were not only perfectly suited to fast-reaction games of that type, but they also had an amazing feature -- you could hook up four of them to a single 2600, as they came in pairs. Once these controllers were in place you could play what was perhaps the first-ever four-player game: Warlords.

Warlords was a simple game with a simple concept -- you used your paddle to guard your castle (and the knight within) from a ball of fire which took a chunk out of anything it hit. Even with the blocky, nearly monochrome graphics and limited sound abilities of the Atari console, Warlords was a compelling game for a group of kids with a Saturday afternoon to kill. As the ball bounced around and was deflected, your wall slowly came down brick by brick until only one knight survived.

AirBurst pays homage to this classic and attempts to take this style of play to a new level of visual splendor and challenging tactics. This time the castle wall is an island of fragile balloons floating high above Earth, and the ball of fire is now spiked, ready to puncture your shield. Further complicating matters is the fact that your island of balloons has its own physics, and starts to drift around as you come into contact with the razor-tipped ball and the other players. Add to this a mix of power-ups and twelve (currently- more variants may be added) styles of play and you have a classic reborn as a truly 21st-century game.


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