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What would happen if you took the pulse-pounding action of Unreal Tournament (commonly referred to as UT), removed all the blood and gore, and replaced the awesome weapons with non-lethal Nerf-brand guns? You'd get Nerf Arena Blast, a surprisingly good kids' game which almost feels like a commercialized total conversion of UT. Although the game emphasizes its single-player mode, which this review will cover, there is also a multiplayer mode which is unofficially supported by an active community - complete with new game modes and maps.
The single-player mode plays similarly to UT's tournament mode, except you must win all events in an arena (there are eight arenas in all) before you can move on to the next. Exceptions to this rule are: the Amateur arena, which only requires you to win the PointBlast event to move on; and the Championship arena, which immediately takes you to a PointBlast match. These game modes are SpeedBlast, a race through the arena where you must touch all the numbered flags in order, PointsBlast, which is a traditional - albeit non-lethal - deathmatch, and BallBlast, a race to score all seven numbered balls (which are also colored to tell them apart) in any of the goals in the arena. With a sufficient number of points you can also unlock the BonusBlast event, which is essentially a PointBlast event in a special arena.
Although the PointBlast event is rather solid, the SpeedBlast and BallBlast arenas aren't as good. Your SpeedBlast opponents don't move as fast as you - meaning if you can manage to stay ahead of them and maneuver through the course - which can, at times, have a rather confusing layout - you'll win remarkably easily. Also, the BallBlast events can get very long if neither you nor your opponents can find those last few balls to shoot into a goal.
The arenas you'll play through are bright and colorful, ranging from space stations to dense forests to stylish, foam-covered arenas. Although they look appealing to the eyes, the layouts of the arenas are simple. However, they do contain secrets, typically activated by buttons on the floor or walls of the arena, or by gear-like triggers, which are activated by shooting their center. Arenas also typically contain various symbols, such as the Nerf Arena Blast logo, which can be shot for extra points.
Speaking of points, despite the variety of events, the only way you can actually win any of them is by scoring the most points. This means, for example, you might not have passed through all the flags (which give you lots of points for passing through them) in SpeedBlast first, but if you have the most points, you'll still win! This can, obviously, take the fun out of the non-deathmatch events. Also, the main way you'll earn points from player 'deaths' is not through the depletion of their energy (aka health), but through the plaques they leave behind. These range in point value, depending on the player's position on the leaderboard when they were 'killed'.
The weapons at your disposal vary from the realistic, such as a dart pistol and a foam rocket launcher, to the outrageous, such as the electronically-charged rocket ammo of the HyperStrike to the energy-ball-firing Whomper - which is the Nerf Arena Blast equivalent of UT's Redeemer. Most of the weapons have an obvious UT equivalent, and they also have the same 'death' messages - which can lead to some of the oddest notices in a kid's game, such as "Expack2 was surgically removed by Ryan."
The opponents are your standard UT bots, but obviously toned-down so as not to overwhelm young players. Thankfully, it's possible to adjust opponent difficulty when you create a new player profile, and I'd recommend the "Mega Nerf" option for those who actually want some sort of challenge while trying to play this game. They also vary in gender and appearance, from slim kids to bulky-looking, stereotypical bullies.
To sum things up, Nerf Arena Blast is a surprisingly good FPS game geared toward kids. It's not perfect, but it's strangely fun if you can get past the kiddie motif. Also, if you take advantage of the multiplayer community, you could end up forgetting you're even playing a kid's game!
You may find on more modern hardware that the Direct3D and OpenGL graphics are a bit buggy - this is normal for games based on the original Unreal Engine. It's possible to fix this by using the surprisingly high-quality software renderer or, if you either have a real 3DFX Voodoo chipset or a Glide wrapper, the Glide renderer. You might also be able to use other, community-made renderers with this game, but I can't guarantee they'll work.
Also, whenever the game uses music, it will play whatever audio CD you have in your first CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive.
Without a doubt my favorite game ever.
Posted on: 2013-06-25 by qwertykeyman
I stumbled across a demo of this game while trying to both appease my protective mother and find something to entertain myself. This game really showed me how good a pc game could get. The mods, game types, custom weapons were all new and engaging. This was the game I held at my first LAN party and I still proudly play it today. The community is also the single best I have yet to find in my travels across the interwebs. The friends I have made here are some of my best friends and I wouldn't trade anything for the experiences and memories of our community interactions on the forums or the online play. Those faulting the game for a lacking single player will be happy to find that a full story based campaign was created by the community complete with voice acting and a custom soundtrack. The tight controls and fast paced gameplay leave you feeling that that kill you just got was out of pure skill through the total control you had over your character. I have yet to find a game as satisfying to play as Nerf, and would shamelessly recommend it to any of my friends my age.
The quintessential shooter -- A must play!
Posted on: 2013-06-25 by Boofer
This is it, the game that started my gaming hobby. 15 years ago, I was just a 4 year old playing with the would-be legends of the game that many of the community members know today. That was before the community pack, before the endless amounts of bug fixes and updates, even before the barrage of terribly designed, but incredibly fun maps. Even then, Nerf Arena Blast was a kick-ass shooter that rivals shooters of today in originality and fast-paced action. I like to call it the first arena shooter because it technically is, only being released a month before the original UT. Some may be turned off by the family friendliness of colorful Nerf guns, but let me assure you that I've had plenty of vicious matches with friends that counteract the silliness of it all. The singleplayer aspect of the game is pretty bad, but a fun distraction, especially with the awesome dance party at the end (if it doesnt crash your game). The real fun is exploring all of the crazy new gamemodes and community added maps, while at the same time kicking all of your friends asses. Although NAB has a fairly small community, we've stayed strong through these 15 years (no thanks to that Rajada guy, he thinks he's so cool :)). Download this game, head on over to nerfarena.net and join in on our amazing community.
Nerf Arena Blast, my gateway
Posted on: 2013-06-25 by playmer
to First person shooters on the PC. Nerf Arena Blast is a game that I played non-stop when I was an early teen. Wonderfully based on Unreal 99, developed for younger kids who couldn't play the games with blood in them, this game still managed to require the skill those games were vaunted for. I still remember trying out for a clans special Spec-Ops team by playing their training map online. I never did finish it, the jumps were too difficult on a dial up machine, but it was all great fun. I highly recommend NAB for anyone who enjoyed Unreal 99 and would like to try their hand at trying a game which requires similar skills but has interesting spins on the classic gameplay. It should also be mentioned that this game has a small community of people on nerfarena.net, although most of us simply congregate on Skype.
Unofficial community patch brings this game up another notch...
Posted on: 2013-06-24 by Rajada
Alone, Nerf ArenaBlast is a surprisingly addicting, fast paced shooter that manages to put comparable arena shooters to shame. But once you figure out that a whole legacy of users have compiled an all-encompassing, unofficial patch and content installer, the game goes from good to great. All the original content stays in tact, with a whole slew of bug-fixes, balance tweaks and improvements. Then it adds a plethora of community-made maps, mods, weapons, and other content collected over the course of over 10 years. Once you get the NAB Community Pack, you simply cannot run out of things to do, either by yourself, or online with friends. The remaining members of the NAB Community are so dedicated, that they will help you through any troubleshooting, and if you're inclined, help you along the path to making your own custom content that you can share with your friends or through the community itself. In my opinion, you simply cannot find another shooter today with as much variety, humor, and charm as Nerf Arena Blast.
Memorable game of the 3dFX era
Posted on: 2013-06-23 by live2njoy
I played plenty of Unreal Tournament online back in the day but its silly non-violent derivative aimed at kids known as "Nerf Arena Blast" was simply MORE fun. In the late 90s I enjoyed the Nerf Arena demo more than the full versions of Doom, Quake, Counter-Strike and a whole lot of other needlessly serious first-person shooters. NAB doesn't have the dark, gory, and depressing theme that more or less defines the genre. It was the complete opposite, it was centered around bright colors and the maps had an amusment park feel. Essentially it brought an "arcade" experience to FPS but with plenty of depth. They may have pulled it off better than "Outtrigger" on the Dreamcast. But if I had to sum up the draw of game in one word it would be "variety". The maps are complex so an online deathmatch does not feel repetitive like so many other FPS titles. And the single player is entertaining for its innovative "race" mode, which is like a cross between Sonic R, The Outfoxies, and the CTF mode of an FPS. And the best part is the weapons which are comically unbalanced, but somehow this all evens out thanks to the ability to escape via ramps, slides, and the variable jump feature. In my opinion this is a dam good retro game which is made even more attractive by the fact that it can run on modern machines at modern resolutions.