Nov 10, 2011
So there’s this little fluff ball called a puffle, and all he wants to do is eat his Puffle O’s, when suddenly an evil crab appears and steals all of the Puffle O’s! Well, what is a puffle to do but strap on his best Evel Knievel helmet, drop himself into a cannon, and hurtle himself through space to collect his delicious treats?
Puffle Launch doesn’t seem to need any more story than that to present the game – the expository cut scene is only a few seconds long and then you are in the game. Your puffle is a tiny, aerodynamic ball, and the cannons are hovering about in space, just waiting to blast him around. Normal gravity rules apply, so if the game stage begins with the puffle hovering in the air, as soon as the stage begins he will drop straight down into the first cannon he finds. From there he is able to zoom around and into the Puffle O’s that are conveniently hanging around the sky in your path. To clear a stage you must fly into (and thereby) collect a large enough percentage of the available Puffle O’s, as well as reach the final and biggest Puffle O in each stage. The cannon paths are accommodating enough that, at first, it takes very little guidance on your part to get your puffle on his way. There are a variety of cannon types to help you achieve this goal. The blue cannons are auto-fire and launch the puffle as soon as he falls into one. The green cannons are triggered by you and auto-rotate once a second, to let you choose your direction. There are also some cannons that will allow you free travel in any direction that you choose. There are a few more whimsical features such as balloons that you can rebound off of, and hoovering pianos that randomly block your path.
With some very energetic background music to pump you up, the game immediately generates a big sense of excitement. The puffle’s tiny face has a permanent intimidating look of determination on it, and I was ready to catch some Puffle O’s and defeat that crabby Crab Boss! As I played I also found that there is something very pleasing about watching the little puffle fly across the screen in graceful arcs. A stage is “lost” when the puffle misses his mark and falls down into the water below. He’s fine though, and you have unlimited lives. It seemed at first that this game had unlimited fun potential too, but only a few levels in I discovered the truth: this game is HARD!
The scenery is of a clear, open sky (except for the Puffle O’s, cannons and those pianos). The puffle and cannons are very small, to let you see as much of the game stage as possible at a time. The drawback is that the puffle is so small that tapping the screen with your finger covers a lot of the area of play. Some stages require some very precision tapping, and even having small hands for an adult I found this exceedingly difficult. There are a few save points in some of the later levels, but for the most point once the puffle has fallen into the water you are back to square one. Worse still, it is impossible to zoom in or out to view the entire game field. This makes strategy and planning nearly impossible, so trial-and-error is the only way to beat a level. This becomes annoying rather quickly when you are forced to start a stage from scratch when you were 3/4 of the way through it. I was stuck on one level for a few days at once point and it was only by sheer luck that I was able to proceed. But I have been impossibly stuck on the following level ever since. Without any way to proceed I don’t know that I honestly have any desire to continue playing Puffle Launch. A shame, really, because it really started off with a bang.