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Fragile Ball

Published by Bimboosoft
Price $9.95
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

I have noticed a growing number of physics-based puzzle games on the indie scene of late, and Bimboosoft’s Fragile Ball is one of the more entertaining that I have had the chance to try. The premise of the game is quite simple; to guide the (predictably) fragile ball through the level from a start point to a goal. It certainly lacks the playability and depth of a game like Armadillo Run or the sheer longevity of a game like Pontifex, but scores points for originality and fun nonetheless.

Moving platforms impede my progress. Fire the Fragile Ball from the cannon but don't get fried in the burner!

The control scheme is simple and intuitive. One needs only to hold the left mouse button and move the mouse left or right to rotate the level about a point at the centre of the screen. The ball is affected by gravity and falls toward the bottom of the screen no matter how the level is rotated.

In the top right hand corner of the second small screenshot there, you can see a gauge that indicates the degree of rotation and also the maximum limit that the particular level is allowed to be rotated. Some levels are permitted a full 360 degree rotation that allow for some crazy manoeuvres and are also more than a little disorientating for the player. For example, the fragile ball can be allowed to fall a great distance and then by rotating the level 180 degrees and then deftly back to the original setting, decelerated for a soft landing far below.

Another level bites the dust.

Apart from the fragile ball, some levels feature a super ball. The super ball is a great deal more hardy than the fragile ball (although not indestructible), but is more difficult to control because of the way that it bounces off hard surfaces. Other features on specific levels include moving platforms, gas burners, spikes and cushions. Level design is varied and clever and will have the player put through a full range of challenges requiring vastly different techniques over more than 80 levels.

All the levels that I have cleared (over 50 of them) are comprised of the same industrial brick and steel type graphics and this became a little tiresome after a while. A few different tilesets for various levels might help here. The graphics are more than passable though, and the overall theme is coherent and conservative. The effect that is triggered when the fragile ball is smashed is quite cool, and took me back to my days playing Wizball on the C-64.

There is no negative criticism of the sound effects or in game music. The background music in particular fits the game to a tee and is varied so that it never seemed to become repetitive to me. Good quality sound effects accompanied every action on screen.

I must admit that I was a little surprised not to find a level editor bundled in with the game. That feature seems to be almost standard on these types of games nowadays, and the lack of it detracts from the longevity score for Fragile Ball. Although it is not going to be a game that I will be playing in a month from now, I would estimate that there is enough included content to keep the average player going for a good 8 to 10 hours. There is really no incentive to go back and retry levels that have already been cleared, no times are recorded, and there are no online features to compare your results with other players.

Despite the abovementioned flaws, at a mere $10 Fragile Ball is an affordable, good quality puzzle game with a solid physics model. It boasts a user friendly interface and offers original and fun gameplay.

Graphics 76%
Sound 88%
Playability 81%
Longevity 43%
Overall Score 73%
Bronze Star

Published on 04 Jan 2008
Reviewed by Steve Blanch

Keywords: fragile ball review, bimboosoft reviews, bimboosoft games, fragile ball scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.