On the Ball
- On the Ball (1993 on DOS, 1994 on Amiga)
There's a kind of knick-knack you may find in dusty games rooms, a maze through which you navigate a marble by subtly tilting the board, dancing with gravity and momentum, deftly rolling your sphere out of dead ends and around the obstacles posed by holes in the board. Marble Madness explores this theme in a fudged 3-D perspective, Cloud Kingdoms in a flat 2-D one -- both by directly influencing the actions of the ball. The game takes a different approach toward a similar end; instead of moving the ball around the board, you move the board around the ball.
That's right; from the get-go, gravity pulls ever down, down, down on your ball toward the bottom of your screen regardless of board orientation; the task of the player is to rotate the board now clockwise, now counter-clockwise, to further a timely and unobstructed path beneath the ball in its progress toward each level's goal before the timer ticks down to zero. The game might as well have been named "inertia." Many obstacles can be avoided, but some must be engaged head-on: a certain momentum, if not terminal velocity, must be achieved to break through crumbling brick barriers; other obstacles toggle on and off like traffic lights, demanding not only speed but timing. Some influence the ball's direction, and in addition to merely delaying the ball's progress, touching some impediments incurs an additional time penalty -- conversely, some blocks bestow time bonuses, if you can afford the ever-diminishing time needed to take the scenic detour and collect them.
- キャメルトライ - Japanese spelling
Credits (Arcade version)
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|Sound (by Team Zuntata)|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 72% (based on 10 ratings)
Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings with 1 reviews)
I checked out this game largely because of its similarity to one of my favourite Amiga games, Bob's Bad Day from Psygnosis. I never owned a SNES in its heyday, although I played some of the classic multi-player games on a friend's, so I was interested to see how this one worked.
In many ways, it's extremely obvious that this is a console game from Japan, and BBD an Amiga game from England. The presentation of this title is colourful and full of character, with a tutorial section, and all manner of bonus games. Time left at the end of one level is carried over to the next, and you get a fruit machine-type subgame to win more extra time on occasion. There are continues, and upon losing one (by running out of time on the level) you get a chance to win bonus time.
Furthermore, this title is essentially a pure reaction test, with little strategy, and less complex designs than BBD. In the latter game there are icons which change the direction of gravity (causing the character to 'fall' to the left), to disable parts of the joystick, to make the character piece bouncy or heavier or invincible, and there are coins to collect and enemies to avoid. On the Ball is a simple race against the clock, with no need to consult a map or plan a route - quick reactions and good reflexes are all that are really needed.
For whatever reason, I've found a lot of the SNES games I've checked out in recent years quite easy, and this is no exception. There are only 24 levels, and few of these are challenging, especially as you can often build up a large 'cache' of time from the first few in each sequence. After doing the tutorial section, I completed the Beginner levels without using a continue, and the Expert levels at my second attempt. Even the 'special' levels aren't especially tricky, so I can only imagine, at the most, 4-6 hours of gameplay here.
Despite this, some aspects of the game seem unfairly hard. Attempting to smash bricks by building up momentum works quite well, but doing so in confined sections is quite fiddly, especially when you are on the direction forcing squares.
The Bottom Line
The basic task is to rotate a maze so as to guide a character from the start to the end. There are various hazards along the way, including blocks to smash through, some spaces which lose you time when hit, pinball-style flippers which ricochet the ball around violently (although you gain points for each contact - another idea that US or European designers wouldn't think of), arrows which attempt to force the ball in a particular direction, and so on.
So, is this lost and little-known SNES game better than my favourite little-known Amiga game? To be honest, no. The sheer lack of challenge the game offers ultimately kills the excitement pretty quickly, and the two-player mode is a mediocre consolation.
SNES · by Martin Smith (81434) · 2005
- MobyGames ID: 16272
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Pseudo_Intellectual.
Additional contributors: chirinea.
Game added January 19th, 2005. Last modified August 17th, 2023.