Ball on a Wall Review

The title of SmallGreenHill’s Ball on a Wall ($0.99 for iPhone and iPad) certainly is simple, but deceptively so. You’d be forgiven for expecting a rendition of Pong just from the sound of it. In reality, Ball is a unique action puzzler: a game of creative destruction, target hitting, and juggling wrapped into a satisfyingly complex package.

A bouncing ball may be the star of the show, but it’s the backdrop the player has direct control over. Tracing across the screen or tapping on individual tiles pops them out, forming the titular wall that keeps the ball from plummeting to its doom. Careful though: your job is never done because only a handful of blocks are allowed to be active at once, the oldest successively disappearing as the player activates more. Your one interaction with the ball is making it jump up by tapping on it. The idea is to maintain a safe corral while getting the ball to strike ticking bombs before they explode; if a bomb blows it disables adjacent tiles, making wall building more difficult. The current level ends once an assigned number of bombs have been smashed.

If you’re a Game Center achievement junkie, Ball will effectively distract you from the main goal by assigning a performance star to hitting specifically marked tiles. You can also rush around for coins to spend on changing the ball’s appearance. And if neither of those things appeal, the player still has plenty to contend with thanks to the game’s steadily evolving complexity. Tiles with minds of their own, portals, and zapper blocks that fry the ball on contact are just a few of the surprises the game stirs in!

Ball remains engaging and frenetic throughout, and its interface handles well on a small touchscreen. One thing the UI isn’t built for is the typical last-second emergency. When the ball’s about to fall out of bounds, the player’s automatic reflex is to create a wall right below or beside it, but that tap will make the ball jump instead and chances are you’ll lose it in the ensuing juggle. Ball is just the kind of game that requires you stay two steps ahead of the current situation.

Ball’s presentation is simple but effective, full of flashy explosions and environments that spring to life with automated processes. A wide selection of psychedelic tracks from such royalty-free rockstars as Kevin MacLeod, Jason Shaw and Dan O. help the player stay in the zone.

iFanzine Verdict: Consider Ball on a Wall an indie gem if you’re looking for a deep and fast-paced action puzzler or puzzle platformer.