Clusterpuck 99 is a games based on air hockey and football. Sounds fun right? Something like that would surely make a cracking party game, and be a ton of fun. Sadly this is not the case. But air hockey and football? Nope. I had hopes that this would be a fun gaming experience, as I’m sure others did. But what makes this a lacklustre affair? Well, for starters it is not the choices of arenas. There are plenty to choose from, all with varying degrees of difficulty with regards to obstacles of shape of arenas. There are some very well designed, and fiendish too. If you are of the creative mindset, you are given the opportunity to create your own arenas to battle in.
The colour palette doesn’t offend the eyes either, and is simple colours, for what is a simple game. Controls are easy to get to grips with, and the games are fast paced, unlike the similar Videoball. If you had to pick between these two games, I honestly couldn’t say which you should choose. Personally, I would say Clusterpuck, as it is marginally better and you can create your own arenas. I did feel like that it is devoid of something critical for success as a game, bu putting my finger on what that is remains a mystery.
What the game is missing that I can mention, is the lack of an online component. With a game like Clusterpuck, it is a competitive game, such the Fifa’s, Forza’s and Titanfall’s of the gaming world, although not on such a grand scale. Given it is local versus only, it runs out of steam far too quickly, and what you’re left with is a game that needs people that can play to thrive, fading away like a spent candle. Quietly into the background, and out of everyone’s line of sight. What could have been a fantastic party game with friends, now relies heavily upon you having a group of friends and a myriad of controllers at your disposal to enjoy this game.
The content isn’t shoddy, as there literally dozens of arenas to choose from to battle away in. I have played most of them just to see how well designed they are, and they are good for the most part. But it just doesn’t cut it, and wont be the main draw for this game. It still misses a vital component, and it has no saving graces to keep it’s head afloat in a market of Indie games, where there are so many more games of a higher quality, that are more deserving of your hard-earned cash and offering value for money that Clusterpuck just cannot match.
The reasons you would make the purchase, could be one of two reasons; easy achievements, or a game for your kids. That is pretty much it. The price for what you get could be contested by some, and a sale would likely entice you to part with the cash. But only if there is nothing else available for you. But as mentioned above, the Indie market is now saturated with many games, as more and more developers are arriving on the scene with more enticing prospects.
The action thankfully is fast paced, and can be a little bit of fun should you have someone to play with. But with their being many others games out there that you can play local co-op or versus with, Clusterpuck will highly likely be over looked as you search for something with more longevity, and fun. A crying shame in all honesty, as when I spoke to my better half about the concept of the game, she perked up and said it sounds like a great game. Which was my very reaction when I read up about the game. It had potential by the bucket load, but missing character and that essential online, you are left with disappointment and a sour taste left in your mouth.
The music and sound effects are uninspiring, unlike rival Videoball, which was entertaining in that department. I would love to able to combine the audio aspects of Videoball, and the frantic game play, arena creation tool of Clusterpuck, and combine them into one game. You know, take the best bits of both, and mix them together with some online, and see what happens. I am pretty confident that the end product would actually be a far more enjoyable experience, and one that could lead to many a game night for people.
It would be easy to write this game off completely, and also very unfair. It does have redeeming features, and still misses a lot that could be a vast improvement on what remains a slightly below average title. For what it is, it’s ok. Not about to set the world alight, and I for one am left feeling a little bit deflated. Hopefully the developer can take something from this and see what went wrong and if they ever release a sequel or similar game, work on inclusion of what could make a fun and enjoyable party game. It has the ingredients certainly, but just needs the finishing touches to make it a more noticeable game, and stand out among the competitors.
To summarise, Clusterpuck 99 isn’t truly dreadful a game, it does have a little bit of charm looking to shine through like the sun on a damp and cloudy morning. But if you’re not looking, you will miss it. By all means give it a whirl, at a sale if you’re not sure. Kids will probably enjoy it, as would an achievement hunter. There are far worse games out there, and this shouldn’t be completely avoided. But neither would it be your first port of call.
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