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Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: Daydream Software
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

At its highest resolution, Clusterball's graphics are acceptable enough. It has its flaws though, as the terrain and water, along with the usually cloudy sky, will look exceedingly grainy the closer you get. Objects, such as the buildings and other structures, are pretty good all around, breaking up the mostly ordinary playing areas. The levels are all set in futuristic or exotic places, varying the schemes to drive away the monotony. The only downside to this is that they are all basically the same, just as all football or baseball fields are the same. No matter what the scenery, you're still playing on basically the same field.

Fans of the Euro pop scene will enjoy the music in Clusterball. All others will want to mute their speakers. The music makers get points for trying, but they would have gotten more for not putting any in there at all. It's hard to truly understand the inadequacy of the music without hearing it. I pity those who have, and I envy those who haven't. As for the sound, aside from your ship running into things, or the occasional crowd cheer when you fly by the stands, there isn't much to hear out in the field. Also, what you do hear is weak, lacking that audio punch that you'd expect from an action-oriented game such as this.


Clusterball is an online futuristic sporting event. Free of charge, you can participate on any of a given number of servers, depending on your rank. The more you play, the higher your rank will be. The online community will hold various events, including tournaments, and you'll be able to enter them if you have a high enough rank. Until then, you'll just have to settle for playing with the other rookies.

With you at the wheel of your futuristic aircraft (they never really gave it a name), your job is to fly around the level and snatch as many balls as you can. This can be done in two different ways. The first and easiest way is to pick up the balls that are lying around the level. They will usually be lined up on some kind of runway, and you have to make a rough landing on it and steer your way along the narrow path, snatching as many balls as you can. The other, and much more fun way of getting balls, is to snatch them from your opponents via a ball snatcher. The ball snatcher, amongst other weapons, allows you to steal your opponents' balls and take them as your own. Once you think you have enough balls trailing behind you, the final step is to score by bringing your balls through a gate in the middle of the map. This deposits your balls and racks up your score.

Games are ended by either a max score or a time limit. The higher you are on the list, the more experience points you get towards your next ranking. Better rankings equal better opportunities to play in important tournaments, and also earn the respect of the Clusterball elite (something I'm sure you've been dying to earn since childhood).


Clusterball is not a difficult game at its core, though this will vary depending on who you're playing against. The most difficult aspect of the game is its controls, for without a joystick or some other gamepad, flying around can get a little difficult. The physics aren't complicated enough for you to have to be a veteran of flight sims, so any type of device will do, but a keyboard is simply out of the question if you plan on doing some serious ball snatching.

Game Mechanics:

Clusterball isn't really a flight sim, though flight is involved. The physics aren't anything crazy that you might expect from a science fiction type game like this. It does incorporate the basic ideas of a flight sim, though. Pulling back brings you up, left and right will turn you left and right, and there is also a roll button for getting yourself oriented again. Again, playing with a keyboard is possible, but its nothing like playing with the luxury a joystick or gamepad.

Attacking your opponents isn't really attacking them. It's more of a way of throwing them off course, or limiting their playing abilities for short periods of time. You can't kill them, but you can hinder their abilities enough to the point of making them kill themselves. The ships can only take so much damage from running into things, and if you were to, oh, say, shoot someone with a rocket that makes them fly backwards, it could end their trip real quick.

Clusterball ends up being either a game you'll love or a game you'll hate. For some, flying around and snatching balls is the highpoint of their day. For others, it will be a complete bore. If you're interested in getting involved with an online community (which seems mostly European or Australian), this game will do just that, along with offering a mediocre game. If you're looking for a game with a little more depth than just being a conversation topic for the chat rooms or message boards, look elsewhere.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:

233 MHz Processor, 64 MB RAM, 25 MB Hard Disk space, 8 MB Video Card, PC Sound Card, Windows 95/98/ME/2K

Test System:

Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Civilization III: Gold Edition Windows Dark Planet

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated