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Puzziball [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Serving as the perfect example that we should be cautious of free games, Puzziball is a shallow title with mechanics that aren’t dreadful yet aren’t entirely fun.  The small amount of stages within the game that aren’t paid DLC may be enough to keep someone busy, but Puzziball is so forgettable that I doubt anyone will be motivated to play the game past the first themed world.

The Pros: 

+ It was free and the download size is small as it’s only 69MB

The Cons: 

- Gameplay is dull.
- The amount of free content is somewhat small.
- Art style is horrendous in a mid 1990s kind of way. Rating : 

Sometimes when an item is free it can either mean two things: company x is being nice to us or the product is so bad that it’s obvious a decent profit won’t be made.  It’s somewhat rare for games to be free, yet every now and then we are lucky whether it’s a piece of DLC or in this case a new title for the PlayStation Mobile platform.  Being an open minded gamer and one that’s always on the search for new titles to play on my Vita, I decided to download the completely free game that is Puzziball.  Too bad that the game ultimately turned out to be so painfully bad to play that it’s almost insulting.

Questions may be raised right now such as what exactly Puzziball is.  Is it some time of game set in a near distant future in which the sport of choice involves men doing a deadly action merely to amuse people and further deepen the pockets of a deadly corporation - similar to the classic flick Rollerball?  Sadly we don’t have a game that takes a note from Rollerball, the original version at least, as Puzziball is a simple puzzle based game as the title obviously hints at.

Presented with a series of sliders that can be moved both horizontally and vertically, the goal of Puzziball is to navigate a ball to a goal, in this case a tube on the other side of the screen.  With the only way to move the ball being through holes on the sliders, Puzziball is meant to be a moderate brain busting game in which the solution isn’t completely out of reach. The true problem with Puzziball is that it’s simply a dull game that isn’t even worth downloading for free.

With touch controls serving as the only way to move the sliders, Puzziball has a decent base that likely would’ve made for a fun game if this was 1997.  Using touch controls to move the sliders was relatively easy since each slider could only be moved a certain distance, sometimes due to obstacles such as blocks or other things impending their movement.  Even tapping the ball to move it from one slider hole to another was fine since neither holes needed to be perfectly aligned, thus there was never the chance for a mishap that would result in a game over screen.

Featuring an art style that tries to be “inventive” by including tropical and neon themes, Puzziball has such a dull presentation that it looks like it was made using low-level PC tools in the mid to late 1990s.  Where everything falls apart in Puzziball is that the central gameplay just wasn’t enough to keep me immersed. My senses were definitely not engaged while playing Puzziball, but the game simply is too one note for it’s own good.  Things are definitely upped in the difficulty department through the addition of multiple sliders and/or obstacles, yet moving a ball from point A to point B isn’t my concept of having a good time.

Things in Puzziball never get too frustrating, even if there are some stages which are annoying, but I did begin to grow a feeling of disdain for the game due to how the game opts to award the player.  In typical puzzle game tradition, Puzziball keeps track of how many moves a player makes in their quest to solve a particular stage.  That mechanic in itself is fine, yet in Puzziball is does become bothersome since some it somewhat prohibits the amount of testing a player may do within a stage to see which sliders can and can’t be moved. 

With a low number of move goals being given for Gold, Silver, and Bronze rankings, I often found myself missing a certain goal merely become I made one extra move. Again, Puzziball may be a game that intense puzzle players would want to master, but the game isn’t exactly high level enough to be mastered as it’s simply a mid-tier game whose poor stage design isn’t inventive as simply cluttered and annoying.

Puzziball is a game that likely would appeal to middle-aged/old housewives who purchase $10 CD-ROM puzzle games from places like Target. Yet the problem with Puzziball is that its key target demographic, the aforementioned old housewives, likely don’t own a PlayStation Vita or PlayStation Certified devices such as HTC phones.  Perhaps I’m being too harsh on the finer points of Puzziball since it was free and all, but at it’s core the game is devoid of the moment and moment excitement and accomplishments found in the dozens of superb puzzle titles already on the market.

Publisher: Heavy Spectrum
Developer: Heavy Spectrum, XDEV
Platforms: PlayStation Vita (Reviewed), PlayStation Certified Devices
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Price: Free (priced DLC for additional stages)