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Released: 2003

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Phoenix Games

Developer: Ascaron Entertainment

Submitted by: Matt Gander

When browsing through lists of PSone hidden gems the names are all too familiar, with quirky Japanese titles such as Bishi Bashi Special and Incredible Crisis abound. Ballerburg though is the unlikeliest of hidden gems, as not only was it released during the PSone’s final hours but it’s also from Phoenix Games – a company best known for some absurdly awful budget games. Winky the Little Bear, anybody?

It may look and sound po-faced but Ballerburg is anything but with a surprisingly crude sense of humour, mostly provided by the executioner that narrates the game. There’s an over-reliance of sexual innuendo jokes for sure, but that’s perhaps not a bad thing. It never did Chubby Brown’s career any harm, after all.

Playing like Worms in 3D, or Worms 3D if you like, the idea is to raze your opponent’s castle to the ground through the use of cannons and catapults. These must to be aimed manually while taking wind speeds into consideration, and also need a few seconds to reload at which point both yourself and your enemy are vulnerable. New arsenal can be researched, including triple catapults, while later zeppelins and magic attacks such as thunderstorms become available. There’s a little bit of resource management to take into account as well, with various buildings available to rake in the gold.

It might not be saying much but it’s definitely the best game that Phoenix Games have ever put their name to.