Get in the Christmas spirit with Avatar Wave: Snowball Fight

Review of Avatar Wave: Snowball Fight on XBLIG: Try
A fast-paced, arcade-style, Christmas-themed dodgeball variant.

Dodgeball is the closest game or sport I can liken to Avatar Wave: Snowball Fight.  The game is played with two opposing players teams, each restricted to their half of the rectangular playing field.  Players must gather snowballs from the ground and then fling them at the enemy team, sapping them of all of their warmth.

The gameplay is very solid.  Four modes—Arcade, XBox Live, Versus, and Survival—provide both single- and multi-player options.  An array of items that provide power-ups, health boosts, and bonus points gives each match variety.  Power-ups actually do have a significant effect: Shake and Split makes snowballs harder to dodge, and increased gathering speed or the ability to hold more snowballs can provide that small edge over opponents that turns the game around.  Many of these items won’t spawn until they are unlocked by accumulating a certain number of total points scored, adding to the replay value.

The game isn’t difficult, but it is tricky to master.  My first playthrough on Arcade mode was frustrating, especially in the later two-on-one matches.  The two opponents often repeatedly knocked me down in a barrage of snowballs, which began to feel like the computer taking cheap shots rather than challenging me.  However, after playing a few games of Survival mode (in which I had to dodge three invulnerable opponents’ snowballs), I picked up on the timing as well as the audible and visual cues.  Once I learned that, dodging incoming snowballs became much easier. (Hint: sometimes the “dodge” button isn’t the best way to option.)

Graphics and sound are polished.  Avatars are used well and in moderation; the snowy 3D world is a natural fit for them.  Custom animations are generally good, although some of the celebration animations felt a bit jerky and unnatural.  The game is Christmas themed, which can either be annoying or fun, depending on when you’re playing it and how much holiday cheer you have. (I happened to play it the day before Thanksgiving, so I turned the music off.)

Overall, I give Avatar Wave: Snowball Fight a Try.  It’s a fun game, but once I played a bit of Arcade and Survival modes and made it to the online high score list, I didn’t have much desire to play much more.  I imagine with some active XBox Live opponents, the game would have much more replay value.  It’s well worth 240 points, but it may not be for everyone.

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