Apr 29, 2011
I probably could have put a down payment on a house if I had saved all the quarters I dropped into the Marble Madness arcade cabinet at the local arcade. As an adult, I’ve moved on to the Monkey Ball games on pretty much every platform they release them on. Needless to say, I was intrigued when I heard about SteamBall. It’s a fully 3D game where you guide a ball through a maze, and in many ways, it’s a very well put together game.
Visually, SteamBall is a masterpiece. The 3D graphics look great, and the sound effects punctuate the visuals nicely. The game runs very smoothly, and I never ran into any frame rate issues, or other performance hiccups. SteamBall looks great, and runs very smoothly.
Gameplay consists of tilting the phone to control the movement of the ball. The controls feel extremely intuitive, and the game even calibrates the controls at the start of each level, so if you move around a lot while you’re playing, it will adjust accordingly. The mazes start off easy enough, and get increasingly more difficult as you progress through the game. If the included mazes aren’t enough for you, you can make your own using the level editor, or you can download other people’s creations using the built in level downloader. At the time of this review, there weren’t any levels up for download, but over time, that will likely change.
SteamBall looks great, the gameplay feels solid, and the controls work well, but there’s one rather large flaw that interferes with what would otherwise be a top notch game. The camera does a terrible job of following the ball as you change directions forcing you to guess at whether you’re going to get the ball on the narrow path you need to cross in order to reach the goal. In fact, on one particular level, the ball was completely hidden by the level as I was attempting to take it around a sharp corner. It’s surprising to see such a large flaw in what is otherwise a well polished game, nevertheless, the camera can and will cause you to fail many many mazes.
It’s hard to recommend a game with a glaring flaw such as the camera in SteamBall, but it’s also hard not to recommend a game that’s so polished in every other way. If you’re ma fan of the Monkey Ball games, or Marble Madness, give the demo version of SteamBall a try. If you can get past the terrible camera, there’s a great game here that will keep you playing for hours on end.