For awhile it felt like it would take an earthquake to pull Angry Birds off its pedestal in the app store’s top slot. As it turns out, all it took was a 14 year old and the creation of the physics puzzle game Bubble Ball.
Built with a finish line in mind, the object of the Nay Games title is to modify your iPhone’s in-game landscape until you can bid a ball to travel safely from one end of the screen to the checkered finish line at the other. To achieve the task, you’re given a collection of items, from wood blocks that move with gravity, to silver bars that are fixed in place once you hit Start.
As you advance, Bubble Ball also hits you with floating wood pegs, slow signs that reduce the bubble ball’s pace temporarily, and double arrow buttons that either send the ball racing faster, or change the direction of movement completely. Although you can pick and choose which of the 32 levels you want to play first, if you decide to go in chronological order then the levels get increasingly more difficult as you advance.
At first the requirements for getting the ball to the finish line are as simple as building a bridge, but in time you’re presented with directional changes and gravity changing mini-mazes that force you to pull the ball upward and downward before you can reach the finish. In a sense, the entire game is simple. The graphics are as basic as almost any game in the app store, but the graphics aren’t really the point. Instead it’s about the thrill of the puzzle, and the effectiveness of the physics engine.
In this way, Bubble Ball is perfect. The game is engaging and challenging without taking you out of the world, meaning you can play while you’re waiting in line and not feel horrible at having to abandon it. The levels will keep you busy for a bit of time (especially considering that this is a free offering, but the only thing I really regret is the inability to acquire more levels. Hopefully our 14 year old game creator can add game programming to his to do list after homework and offer some paid levels before we know it.
Bottom Line: Bubble Ball’s 32 levels won’t last forever, but the time you spend solving these free and wonderfully satisfying puzzles will be more than charming. This is a puzzle game you should download now, you’ve got nothing to lose.