Wednesday, 15 August 2007

A Ballancing Act

First off - please don't moan about the typo in the title. It's meant to have two L's.

Why? Because I've been playing a great little PC game called Ballance.

It harks back to the days of old games development: a tiny team, no more than a few people, if that, crafting masterpieces. And, for all it's simplicity, that's exactly what Ballance is.

The game revolves around a frighteningly simple concept. You control a ball that you have to navigate, with the directional keys, through 12 mazes that are suspended, in the clouds, from poles that lead down through the sky to wherever. The mazes are full of puzzles that start easy but, as you progress through the game's 12 levels, get more difficult. You can change your ball from wood into either paper or stone, and each sphere material has different properties that enable you to solve said puzzles. It's like a modern Marble Madness.

That's it.

And, yet, in a world full of intricate, detailed games, full of depth and subtlety, created by development teams numbering in the hundreds, it's still being sold and published, it's still ludicrously addictive. It's been given favourable review scores: PC Gamer in the 80's, AVault in the 90's. I'm sitting here with Morrowind (with 2 add-on packs) and Halo: Combat Evolved next to me, a raft of PS1 and 2 games in the other room and boxes full of other PC games I could play. And yet I find myself slipping Ballance in the CD drawer again and again, wanting to find out exactly what happens in the next level, to see what puzzles the creator has effortlessly rolled out of his imagination. I just wish there were more levels. There's a bonus one on the game's website that raises it to 13, but that's it. Shame.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go play it again.

1 comment:

Uta said...

Well written article.