iPad Game Review: Little Metal Ball HD
Reviewed by Guy Dayen
There are many tilt games available in the iTunes store, and many ask you to guide an object through a maze of some type. These games go from offering the simplest obstacle course to giving you the possibility of exploring a whole new world. Little Metal Ball HD falls in the latter category, and is one of the very best examples of the genre.
The gameplay in Little Metal Ball HD is simple: guide your ball through a series of increasingly complex mazes. There are 60 levels to complete, and six worlds to discover. Each world consists of ten levels, which must be unlocked in turn. Your view is top-down into the worlds of the game. Sounds easy, but let me assure you that it's not! There is a timer in the game, and if you don?t get to the goal on time, you will fail the level. To help you along the way, you can collect gold stars and blue stars, which will give you a bit more time to get things done. There are three cups to be won at the end of each level: bronze, silver and gold. Trying to get a gold at every level guarantees the replay value of this game. If you find the game too easy after playing for a while, you can turn on ?Expert? mode. Be warned, it is insanely difficult. Be prepared for A LOT of falls!
There are so many elements to be conquered that you will be able to come back to this game again and again. There are holes in the paths, barriers of different kinds that must be jumped over without falling over into the void, sliding trays, wire paths, ice patches, bumpers that will send your ball spinning, misleading avenues that are impassable; the complexity of each world is incredible. The loving attention to details lavished on this game by the developers result in a rich and varied gameplay. The developers have used all the real estate afforded by the iPad screen and being able to see a good portion of the maze helps with planning and strategy.
The physics of any tilt game must be spot on, or the game won?t feel right. This is another area where Little Metal Ball HD shines. Balancing the ball and making it roll feels absolutely natural, as if you were playing with a real ball. There is a calibration feature that you can use if you want to play while holding the iPad at an incline, but I found that too confusing for me, and I much prefer playing with the iPad held flat. The jump mechanism is also well-done. I really get a kick every time I jump the ball high enough to ?crack? the glass on my iPad. Kids, and the young at heart, will love this little touch.
The six different worlds in Little Metal Ball HD are all very different visually, and the gameplay is influenced by the look of each world. In the frozen world for example, you have to contend with the slippery nature of the ice. There are different planes in each screen, so you really get the sensation that you are in a three-dimensional world, which, again, makes the game seem very real in your hands.
The graphic styling in each world is extremely well-done. Many maze games are content to put up one or two textures, with stones or ivy walls. Not Little Metal Ball HD. You will find completely realized worlds, full of surprises and complex elements. I won?t give away too much here, because discovering what comes next is an integral part of the game. (That is, unless you plunked down your ninety-nine cents to get a sneak peek at everything at once. Those of you who are perseverance-challenged know who you are!)
While there is music at the main menu, there is none during gameplay. Possibly, the developers thought it may be too distracting. There is no in-game mechanism to play your own music either. This would detract from the sound of the rolling ball, which is ultra-realistic. However, here is an area the game could be improved. The ball always sounds like it is rolling on wood. I would love to have different sounds for slats, ice, metal, etc. Other ambient sounds would be welcome as well, and would enhance the gameplay even further.
All in all, this is one of the very best tilt games available. It?s a game the whole family can enjoy, as there is nothing objectionable for kids (of for sensitive adults, for that matter) and the game mechanics are suitable for everyone from childhood on. The game can be played in quick little sessions, or for extended periods of time. You can challenge your friends to better your time, or to score a better trophy. There is plenty of replay value and the game environment is varied enough that you won?t get bored right away, For a very reasonable price, you will have hours of entertainment.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Beautifully realized worlds, a great 3D feel, and superb graphics
Sound: - 3 - Very little music, and very little in the way of soundscapes. The sound of the ball is great, however, and will help convince you there really is a ball in your iPad.
Controls: - 5 - The tilt feature is quite responsive. The calibration feature is another mark of attention to detail.
Gameplay: - 5 - As I indicated before, Little Metal Ball HD is among the very best in tilt games. If you enjoy showing off your balancing prowess, this is the game for you.
Playing Hints and Tips:
One thing that seemed to help me do better when I was having trouble with a particularly hard level was to play the game standing up. It was easier to hold the iPad more level, and my arms moved much more freely. I can?t claim that I was in fact exercising, but at least I was off the couch! Do keep in mind that for those players who might have too much difficulty with any given level, or who might be impatient to play all the available levels immediately, there is an in-app purchase of an unlock feature for 99 cents. But remember that a big part of the challenge and the fun of this game is trying to unlock everything yourself.
Developer: XMG Studio Inc.
Release Date: July 14th, 2010
Buy App: Little Metal Ball HD
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