Game

Review: Have a Blast Has Good Ideas, but Clunky Gameplay

Screenshot: Have a Blast!

One of the first video games ever made was Spacewar! Only available on expensive computers owned by universities, Spacewar! would be one of the most influential video games, and a precursor to one of the very first coin operated games, Computer Space. Later, similar gameplay would be featured in Asteroids. Why am I talking about these ancient video games? Because Have a Blast! features gameplay that could be argued is the modern equivalent of Spacewar!

Have a Blast! is a party game played from a top-down perspective. You take control of one of five types of ships, and battle against friends or bots in four different game modes. Each ship is identical in function, but differs in appearance, and ships are named after the special ability each wields. The Sniper, for instance, can shoot a powerful rail-gun like bolt that can destroy ships in one shot. The Explosion literally creates an area of effect explosion around it, etc.  Ships are subject to inertia, and won’t stop without appropriate reverse thrust. Weapons similarly make your ship fly backwards with force. While it has all the parts to be a fun party game, it lacks in execution, especially when it comes to ship control.

I understand that Have a Blast!’s ships are probably intentionally difficult to control, and with practice, are a little manageable. I don’t mind games that use Asteroids! style momentum, but Have a Blast! takes it a bit too far, and feels loose and almost like there’s a string constantly tugging at your ship. Each arena is littered with obstacles and hazards—and each ship only takes a very limited amount of damage before exploding. The edge of the screen is not a barrier, either—you can pass from one side of the screen and come out the other side, which adds another layer of chaos.

There are four game modes  in Have a Blast!. Versus is a four versus four free-for-all, while Team and Mothership have two teams of two facing off. Mothership adds a larger ship that you have to protect, because once it’s gone you can’t respawn and your enemies can win. There’s also a challenge mode which has you facing off in 1v1 duels versus the AI across Have a Blast!’s various arenas.

Screenshot: Have a Blast!

Have a Blast! Does a good job visually, though it isn’t groundbreaking. I always appreciate when a neon aesthetic is used well, and this is a good example. Some of the arenas are visually striking, but nothing that hasn’t been seen before. But it’s in those glimpses of greatness I can’t help but think, “damn, this game could’ve been more.”

As a party game, Have a Blast! is okay—everything is more fun with friends. It has a certain chaotic quality that makes it feel less competitive, and more about luck. If you want to play solo, you can play against bots or challenge yourself in its challenge modes, but it’s still definitely better with friends, if only just.

 

Have a Blast! is available today on PC via Steam and for Nintendo Switch.

 

 

 

A Steam key was provided to use for the purposes of this review.

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