Jun 15, 2011
Puzzle games work because they’re deceptively simple. Look at Tetris, the granddaddy of them all. All you’re doing is guiding blocks into a space, but it doesn’t take long for the game to turn into a fiendish and cruel mistress, goading you for daring to think that an L shaped one would ever fit down there. That difficulty sneaks up on you, which is what gets you hooked.
Spinballs is similar in structure, if not style, to those puzzling greats of the past. It doesn’t try to bamboozle you with complex controls or a mind numbing story, nor does it set its puzzles in the bleak expanses of space. It just tells you to spin balls. Clever title, then.
As with a lot of puzzle games, your task in Spinballs is match three balls of the same colour. To do this, you spin a number of on-screen dials left or right. There are seven dials in total, each of them with six coloured balls attached. Once three or more balls are matched, they disappear, to be replaced by other balls. Burst the requisite numbers of balls and you move on to the next level.
To make things ever so slightly more complicated and modern, there are icons in the four corners of the screen. If you burst the balls that are adjacent to these icons, they gradually â€œfill upâ€. Once an icon is full, you can use the power associated with it. One of them shuffles the balls around, and another slows down the time bar, for example.
There are two game modes, Classic and Zen. Classic is a more frantic affair, with a ticking timer limiting how long you have to burst the balls, whereas Zen, as you might expect, is a little more sedate, getting rid of the timer altogether.
Spinballs won’t be to everyone’s taste, and there are times when the touch screen controls aren’t quite as accurate as they should be. The lack of different modes is also a bit of a concern â€“ with only two on offer the game does appear a bit lacking in the content department.
These are small complaints, though. Spinballs is a fun and diverting puzzler, maybe not up there with the best of them, but certainly tugging on their coattails. It’s easy to pick up and difficult to master, exactly the formula that, with a few tweaks here and there, could propel it to greatness.