Approximate Release Date: September 30, 1992
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer: Xanth Software
Publisher: Bullet Proof Software
When was the last time a video game console launched without at least one first-person shooter available? It took over 13 months before Faceball 2000 was released for the Super Nintendo.
To be fair, first-person shooters weren’t really a thing in 1992. iD Software released Doom in December 1993 for PCs, which kicked off the age of “Doom clones” and eventually lead to one of the most popular types of games today. Notice how they weren’t called “Faceball 2000 clones”?
Faceball 2000 isn’t a good game by any modern metric, but it is impressive that Xanth Software was able to make a fully three-dimensional game for the SNES and make it play this smooth. The goal of the game is to run around each level and destroy a certain number of enemies to reveal the hidden exit. Most enemies are pretty dim-witted and won’t put up much of a fight; they might throw a few bullets in the player’s direction, but it’s easy to kill them before it becomes a problem. And if you get in trouble, just wait for the missing health to recharge.
That’s right. Faceball 2000 very well might be the first use of regenerating health in a first-person shooter.
As innovative as that fact may be, Faceball 2000 utterly falls apart once enemies become faster and more resilient. It’s difficult in even the best circumstances to destroy the basic bad guy, since the slow speed of the projectiles means it is almost impossible to lead shots effectively. Around level 5, enemies are able to move much faster and can take two shots before going down. That’s where I hit a brick wall. There’s also an arena mode, which is basically a very simple deathmatch option. I can’t imagine how impossible playing this game splitscreen would be.
Cool graphics just aren’t enough to make Faceball 2000 worth playing. Bad controls and a weird difficulty curve mean trying to make any progress in the single-player mode is a slog. But after all that I think I would be able to forgive the game – and maybe even recommend it – if the bullets you fired didn’t block your view so severely and for so long. I think that more than anything dooms Faceball 2000.
Tomorrow: I wonder if Super Bowling has lane bumpers as an option…