UniBall (formerly X-Pong) has been around since the 1990’s and remains one of the longest running and unchanged, completely free online MMOs on the Internet. The game was partially created by a current PopCap developer and was loosely modeled after ARC. If you’ve ever played HaxBall, it’s very similar but much more dynamic and competitive. It’s a little bit more similar to SubSpace Continuum‘s Hockey Zone.
UniBall is free to play and creating an account takes about 3 seconds. It’s a game that never gets boring and can be enjoyed even while practicing and playing online. It comes with an online and offline mode and you can build your own maps.
As a 2D game that was developed more than 10 years ago, UniBall has a community that is slowly depleting. Recently, however, one of its original developers has returned and made athat should breathe more life into UniBall:
First, we’re going to have a version of the game that runs entirely in a browser using Unity’s WebPlayer plugin. Even though installing the plugin is a little painful if you don’t already have it, it’s a lot easier to deal with than installing a standalone program, especially with the way UB and BR are set up right now. This will also allow the game to run on Mac OS X. Secondly, we’re going to add some more offline content in the form of training and challenges. This should help with the particularly steep learning curve (partially induced by the fact that it’s really hard for new players to find games where they’re not kicked out). These will allow new players to learn the basics of the game like boosting, bouncing, graving, etc., in a low stress environment without people yelling at them. Third, we may (this is still something I’m looking into) be putting more emphasis on 1v1 since it allows players to get better at the game by playing against real people without dragging their team down. It’s also much easier, logistically, to manage/create 1v1 matches than team matches. This emphasis would come in the form of leagues/ladders we would be introducing after launch.
Upon downloading the game, you’ll notice that it comes with two applications: UniBall and BRChat. UniBall is the game client and BRChat is an IRC-like, standalone chat application that docks to your system tray. BRChat is used by the community to socialize, organize league games, and stay up to speed with updates and other happenings.
Here are several links that completely explain how to get the best usage out of both:
Though a little thin, the UniBall community is extremely helpful and welcoming of new players. Be warned though, it takes a very long time to become a top tier player on this game. Several UniBall players have played for years and are stuck at the mediocre level. It’s a game that takes skill and intelligence.
Playing UniBall is very simple. Here is a quick screenshot of the keyboard controls that I have customized and use.
Aside from that, clicking on a location on the map will shoot or pass the ball. It’s much more dynamic than that though. Player skills include juking and faking with the ball, “graving” with the ball (pulling the ball into your ship after fumbling it), and bouncing. Bouncing is the equivalent of dribbling in soccer or basketball.
It’s a very diverse set of controls for a 2D game and allows you to have complete control of everything you do. Your skills are only limited to your creativity and ability.
There are many different map and gameplay modes, including hockey, soccer, dodgeball, and racing. Here’s a few videos that demonstrate UniBall’s gameplay:
If you enjoyed those and would like to see more, check out the UniballTV channel on YouTube. This a YouTube channel full of competitive UniBall matches with commentary by some of our most recognized players. Sometimes the game is just as enjoyable to watch as it is to play.
Here are a few screenshots that demonstrate UniBall’s unique customization and graphic options, where you can change the entire look of your ship, background, and more:
UniBall is great fun for both casual and competitive players. There are dedicated servers in the US (east and west) and the UK, so everyone can enjoy a low ping. UniBall keeps goal and assist records of every player and there are a lot of competitive leagues (such as UHL) where the elite play.
I thought UniBall looked stupid at first. I’ve never been a fan of soccer or hockey. However, I’ve played this game since 2003 and it’s never got boring. If you like HaxBall, look into this game. If you like competitive, team-oriented games, check out UniBall. If you’re into sports, any sport, give it a try.