Moby ID: 44
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

You have been turned into a ball of air with a slow leak by an evil wizard. You must find the Spellbook and the ingredients for the spell. Without these, you will never turn back into a human again.

These items have to be collected in the maze which consists of 150 isometric rooms. These can be explored freely but sometimes you need to have special objects to proceed, e.g. a candle in dark rooms. The dangers consist mostly of sharp objects which can cause your ball to burst. Additionally, you are on a timer because your balloon loses air constantly. But it can be refilled by using pumps which can be found in the maze - but you have to leave them in time or you explode because of overpressure.

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Credits (DOS version)

5 People

Graphics / Artwork



Average score: 75% (based on 11 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 25 ratings with 3 reviews)

Best graphics the Dragon ever saw. Shame it is so hard!

The Good
Ed Scio's graphics are the best Dragon users ever got. The sound is pretty impressive, although by 1987 there were a lot of games with excellent sound as people learnt how to produce music that sounded as if it were multi channel. The game is hard, and frankly rather frustrating, but that is the nature of the genre, really. A glorious game at the end of the 8 bit era.

The Bad
This game is hard, and I seem to recall the Trs-80/Dragon version cannot be completed with a Joystick- only the keyboard- which incidentally gives a much better gameplay experience anyway. There are some cheats out there for it- check back issues of Dragon User, which have been fully archived online. I would have liked to have seen the game in green/black, which would have been an option in the hi-res PAL Dragon mode, although I am grateful that neither full colour green or buff were options as these would have spoilt the magnificent graphics.

The Bottom Line
Ed Scio's masterpiece for the Dragon, so good it got converted to 16 bit. This was one of maybe three games I felt comfortable showing to Amiga owners.

Dragon 32/64 · by drmarkb (105) · 2014

Insidiously fun.

The Good
Most people find themselves playing Airball without realizing they're doing it. It sounds intriguing--you need to find objects to turn yourself back into a human--so you give it a quick go. An hour later, you're amazed at the diverse structure of the rooms and the beautiful graphics. Two hours later, and you're still playing.

The graphics are beautiful, originally rendered in 32 colors on the Amiga and translated nicely to the PC. The tiles used to make up the rooms and the maps are diverse enough to give the illusion of a large castle with many rooms.

The Bad
Airball's CGA support is weak. It's weak in a good way in that some of the darker rooms are completely visible without the torch, since CGA has no palette (so there's no way for the program to dim the screen). It's weak in a bad way, however, in that some objects are almost completely invisible because the 4 colors everything uses unintentionally mask an object lying against a similarly-colored background. Unless you know exactly what to look for, Airball is extremely difficult to finish in CGA.

The Bottom Line
Airball is something you try out for a couple of minutes to see what the rooms look like, and find yourself still playing 45 minutes later.

DOS · by Trixter (8952) · 1999

A nice game that leaks through many holes

The Good
It has a nice VGA graphics, equal with the Atari ST and Amiga versions, which is outstanding for a DOS game from 1987. It has a mystical, magical atmosphere set in an enchanted, dark castle full of creepy statues and traps. The playfield is enormous, it has so many rooms, that makes it is a bit even scary, as it made me think there could be anything in the next room (as a kid). You are an air filled ball here that leaks slowly and you have to find air pumps to survive, these serve also as checkpoints. Without knowing the story, or the objective of the game (which is picking up certain objects and and bringing them to the starting point), I had no idea what to do and I didn't got too far. Maybe I'm lucky I didn't. I saw a full review on Youtube, and I can mostly confirm the issues mentioned by it.

The Bad
The sound effects are okay, but where is the music? There is the composer listed in the credits (or is he responsible just for the other ports of the game?), and there are some assuming .MUS files in the game's directory, but I cannot get music even in GameBlaster mode. (If you know something, please drop a comment into the "How to make the music work?" topic in the forums.) But this is the least problem this game has.

The perspective is isometric, this makes the gameplay 3D-like, but this also makes impossible to see and understand, which platform can we jump on and which platform is out of reach. And this makes really impossible situations sometimes.

The collision detection simply is out of control. We can jump on some spikes without any trouble, some others kill from far away. Add the confusing isometric view and you get chaos! There are even deadly floor tiles.

There are no specific keys to go diagonally, but we need a lot to go diagonally. No, we need to use combinations of the four direction keys to make the ball roll diagonally. This is very dangerous where hazards surround our path. Some places need really, I mean REALLY precise aiming, which are hard to set up, and the ball rolls too fast also.

The ball pops instantly from falls (what?), spikes, deadly floors, and overpressure. We have strictly 3 lives and no way to get bonus lives. Instead, there are useless crystals that appear randomly and we can collect them for useless points. Then we can qualify for the useless high score table.

The level design is stupid at some places. There are traps, that kill instantly, traps where we get stuck, checkpoints that are unreachable, and some places, where impossible to go just in general.

All these make the game unwinnable. Right before we could reach the last screen (screens?) there is a block with spikes on it's sides and a flat top. We have to jump on the top of it to get past. When the ball gets any near to this block from any direction, including from up, just pops. Didn't anyone test this game before they released it? I saw a video where in the Amiga version someone gets through these without any problems, and wins the game, but in DOS, it is impossible. (If although anyone did, please drop a comment into the "Has anyone ever finished this game?" forum topic.)

The Bottom Line
I still want to give it a go, but only with the infinite lives cheat, and It still will be difficult.

DOS · by 1xWertzui (1135) · 2012


Subject By Date
Mysteries solved 1xWertzui (1135) Feb 24, 2018
How to make the music work? 1xWertzui (1135) Mar 16, 2012
Has anyone ever finished this game? 1xWertzui (1135) Jan 26, 2012


Apple IIgs port

According to its author, Jason Harper, Airball for the Apple IIgs only sold 144 copies, a small amount even on the IIgs platform. It was Microdeal's first and last IIgs game.

Construction set

The Atari ST version included a utility called Airball Construction Set which allowed players to create their own Airball worlds.

NES port

A rough prototype was completed by Tengen for the Nintendo Entertainment System and was slated for a release in 1991, but the project was scrapped due to the public's declining interest in the console. It got eventually finished in 2007 by RetroZone and reproduction cartridges are available for purchase.

PC port

Airball was one of the few games where support for multiple graphics modes made the game either easier (or harder) to play. In Airball's case, the CGA support managed to achieve both advantages and disadvantages over the EGA and VGA support. In some places, the lack of color made game objects extremely hard to see against complex backgrounds. But in other cases, CGA's lack of a color palette eliminated the need for objects that produce light, like candles or lanterns. (Since the EGA and VGA palette was used to "dim" the environment when exploring the deeper levels of the castle, CGA users could see everything brightly because there was no palette to dim.)

Information also contributed by Echidna Boy.


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Related Sites +

  • Airball on the Game Boy Advance
    On May 6, 2004, a programmer operating under the alias of "Foxy" released version 1 of a port of this game for the Game Boy Advance.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 44
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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Brian Hirt.

Atari ST added by Corn Popper. Windows added by Rik Hideto. Amiga added by Martin Smith. Dragon 32/64, TRS-80 CoCo added by Игги Друге. Apple IIgs added by Garcia. Atari 8-bit added by Bob Montgomery.

Additional contributors: Pseudo_Intellectual, Игги Друге, Patrick Bregger, 1xWertzui.

Game added March 1, 1999. Last modified January 23, 2024.