Review: SpaceBall Revolution
Posted 20 Oct 2009 at 01:30 by Tom Phillips
|"... the title screen comes with a warning that all levels are completable, and have been done so by 'experienced gamers', something rather humbling when you get stuck later on."|
What? Another puzzle game for WiiWare, I hear you cry. Well, this one is a bit different. True, what it does is nothing revolutionary in terms of concept. The game's design is simple - you must fire balls of light to highlight squares on the grid in front of you to match the design you are given. You're working against a time limit and, if you get it right, you progress onwards. If not the camera zooms back making accuracy harder, making you sweat to beat it under more difficult conditions.
So, this is not the setup of a revolutionary game. No. But what SpaceBall Revolution definitely can be described as however, is a title that knows what it is doing, and does it really rather well. The game's difficulty curve is perfect, taking you from completely simple grid patterns through to navigating around some devilish obstacles. By aiming correctly at the edges of the grid squares, several can be highlighted at once, while later on you will have to start bouncing your shots off of walls at the right angle, skills that will prove vital as your ball's path is blocked by an ever-changing array of distractions.
Rotating arms, semi-invisible walls and flying saucers all complicate later levels, requiring you to figure out ways of shooting over, under, around and through them. There are ten rounds in a level, and over these the game will build on a theme - from a screen empty of obstacles to one, two, three, or a combination of several. The title screen comes with a warning that all levels are completable, and have been done so by 'experienced gamers', something which is rather humbling when you get stuck later on.
Yet overall the game is very much a simple pick-up-and-play affair, easily accessible to all. Easy mode starts you off playing the first five levels, and clears each grid puzzle after completion, while Normal mode has you playing these levels plus five more while also having to clear or adapt the previous puzzle to fit the next one. Advanced mode sees you playing the full fifteen levels in the game, with the earlier levels you've played before now at a much reduced time limit. Clearing this gives you access to the 'Master' difficulty, which ramps the game up to an even harder level.
After completing each mode you are taken to the high scores screen, which includes online leaderboards for each level and mode so you can see how well your mad skills are shaping up with all the other players around the world - and see who's on top with the best scores of all time.
The game also has a two-player multiplayer mode, where levels from the main game can be played split-screen and, amusingly, each player can not only fire at their own game but interfere with their opponents as well. Whether you both agree to play fairly or get into an all out war is something you can try and agree between yourselves before playing, though the temptation to mess with your buddy's screen is somewhat overwhelming.
Graphically speaking, the game looks crisp and beautiful, with the bright neon game space contrasting with the dark canvas of deep space beyond. When the gameplay is less frantic it is easy to stare out and marvel at some of the prettier game effects, evocative somewhat of the space settings in Metroid Prime.
However, while the audio boasts several hummable dance tracks, the game seems bizarrely stubborn in the fact that there is no way to turn them off, which is a great source of frustration. Sometimes you just need to focus and shut off the looping music to finish a level, and the option isn't there - to turn off the music or alter the balance between it and the game's bleeping sound effects.
Another gripe is that the fifteen levels described previously are classed as "Chapter 1" on the main menu, accompanied by another three Chapters - visible but locked. Despite the fact that the promise of more levels is right there staring you in the face, the content is not included, but will instead be available as DLC (pricing as yet unknown).
To be fair, for 800 points you definitely are getting your money's worth already. There is at least five hours of gameplay getting up to where we're currently stuck at. It is just somewhat annoying to know that these levels are unobtainable, however much we hopefully click at their greyed-out options on the main menu.
Final scores lie below...
N-Europe Final Verdict
Precise controls and a simple yet solid game concept make for an addictive gameplay experience that is well worth the Points!
No audio controls
Locked later levels