My first go of Go Mecha Ball ended disastrously. After completing just one round, I went out in a ball of flames, enemies getting the better of me without much effort on their part. The next time around, however, was a different story. Two bosses down and I was going strong. I was on a roll… quite literally, in fact. Because this roguelike pinball shoot’em-up packs a lot in under its colourful hood – but there’s a lot to like.
Except maybe the soundtrack. Within 30 seconds I had to turn my speakers down, because it’s a lot. Sensory overload comes to mind: its blaring, synthy beats are vociferous and over-the-top. But they do go with the rest of the game: neon lights and chunky textures make up Go Mecha Ball’s small-ish arenas, and if you aren’t moving super-fast, well, you’re probably playing it wrong. This is a (literal) balls-to-the-wall roguelike that rewards speed and precision.
After a brief tutorial, you’re thrown into Go Mecha Ball to see how long you can survive. You’re equipped with a gun, which you can shoot at any time with the right trigger. But it’s your pinball movement – holding the left trigger – which you’ll find more valuable here. Speeding along as a sphere will let you shoot up ramps and down chutes. By pressing the right trigger at the same time, you’ll unleash a speedy movement, allowing you to plough into enemies, doing a good amount of damage. Even better, you’ll be given some new ammo, keeping your guns topped up.
For each stage of Go Mecha Ball you complete, you’ll get to choose a new upgrade: maybe you can improve the damage of your guns, or improve your health. Or maybe you can unlock a new ability altogether. Equip a new ability and you’ll be able to use RB to deal even deadlier damage to enemies. You’ll want to make good use of this, particularly considering some foes are impervious to gun damage.
After a few stages, you’ll be presented with a boss: a giant beastie with a hulking health bar and some serious moves of their own up their sleeves. You’ll need to make use of everything you’ve learned, shooting your guns and using your pinball special moves to best your adversary. These are your traditional, tried-and-tested boss fights where you’ll need to avoid attacks and land your own attacks at just the right time. They’re a lot of fun.
Essentially, you’ll keep going in Go Mecha Ball until your health eventually falls to zero. You’ll occasionally find health pick-ups, and once in a while you’ll be able to buy a health kit from a shop. But they’re far and few between, so once your HP is down to 0, it’s game over. Don’t worry though: you can jump straight back in, hopefully doing a bit better next time. With some permanent upgrades available, too – like new loot to use on your next run – the odds are stacked in your favour. And you will want to keep trying.
If you’re a fan of roguelikes and twin-stick shooting, give Go Mecha Ball a try. The addition of pinball-like mechanics are just the cherry on top: this is something quite different, and I’m loving every minute of it. Well, except the music.
Go Mecha Ball will available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC from 25th January. You’ll be able to play via Game Pass, too.