Monday, 19 June 2017

App Review No. 104 Ballz

Strong Points:
Rewards calculation
Minimalist graphics
Colours help to show where you should concentrate your fire

Weak Points:
Difficulty spikes
Sometimes ends up about the RNG gods
Cosmetic changes are just colour changes
Can get repetitive
Slow to begin with

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: 18th February, 2017

Slide to create angle
Release to release ball
Tap to go through menus

Ballz is another game from the incredibly successful mobile games publisher Ketchapp, responsible for games such as Don't Touch The Spikes and 2048. Like their other games, it's built on a one-touch gameplay mechanics, has collectables and difficulty spikes to keep gameplay interesting and a minimalist graphics style, suited for the phone. It's also rather addictive.

Similar to Breakout, in that you fire a ball towards blocks to break them, Ballz also utilises a Three mechanic of having numbers inside the blocks which tell you how many times you have to hit the brick to break it. This adds extra strategy, as you're not only trying to hit as many blocks as possible but also hit them as many times as possible so as to clear the board before the blocks crash to the floor (they move down one block each time you finish a move).

To help you destroy the blocks threatening your homeland after you took some treasure from their vault in 1822 (I'm presuming that's the backstory), you can pick up more balls from the screen by firing into them, allowing you to hit more blocks. To keep the game difficult, the blocks increase in hit points, so while you could have a hundred balls, you might have to hit the blocks 200 times. While this might give the impression of a steady difficulty level, with the blocks increasing in HP as you get more balls, I actually find it harder in the earlier levels, as there's less room for error with less balls, and they can hit less in total. It's also slower to begin with, but persevere, because wants you get 100 balls flying around the screen destroying everything in sight, it's quite a sight to behold.

Along with picking up balls on the screen, you can also pick up coins which can be used to purchase 'costumes' for your balls, basically consisting of different colours. Most Ketchapp games utilise cosmetic changes in order to give more of a sense of progression but I don't think this one needs it, as while other games can have wacky and inventive costumes, a simple colour change for the ball isn't enough for me to warrant aiming for the coins. A least Colour Switch, which also utilises cosmetic changes for their balls has more wacky designs - let me fire hundreds of Pokéball-esque balls at the blocks which threaten our homeland.

The graphics of Ballz are minimalist but work - in a game which is sometimes extremely cluttered in terms of gameplay, it's nice to have the UI on your side. There's only slight sound effects in the game, again adding to the minimalist feel and not exploding your ears when it replays the same sound hundreds of times. It's a shame there's no music at all, some sort of atmospheric piano or something could really zone you in.

The main problem with the game is the frustration that arises from the RNG elements, namely, how many blocks appear at any one time and where. Sometimes you'll have a couple scattered around, or a tunnel made from blocks which you can use to get to the top of the screen and keep the balls destroying all the blocks without falling down. Other times you'll get a horizontal line of relatively high numbers and then a vertical line of even higher numbers, making it incredibly difficult to destroy them all before one gets to the floor. Tip: fire more horizontally if possible.

Conclusion: overall this is another killer time waster by Ketchapp, and has kept me occupied on many a bus journey which is all that's needed really from a free mobile game.

Rating: 80%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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