By Alec Meer on October 9th, 2007 at 9:41 am.
[Reposting this now, as the game was knocked offline on the day I wrote about it due to excessive interest, but now it's back (thanks for the tip-off, Seniath). Do do do go looky if you missed it first time. And the Halo 3 reference was, I'm sure, devastating in its timeliness originally but now reads as odd and outdated. Sigh.]
Additional update – here’s the blog of the chap behind Launchball, detailing some of the thinking and backstory behind this excellent game’s creation.
Why yes, since you ask, I do own a copy of Halo 3. Except it’s currently still in the shrink wrap as, frankly, I already had better things to be doing. And now, I’ve also got free thingy Launchball to eat up my time. Trust me, this one will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself than grenading another Grunt will.
Bungie’s design ethos for Halo may be ’30 seconds of fun’ , but that 30 seconds is just shooting people, innit? Launchball, created by the Science Museum in London (which would make me feel a swell of patriotic pride if only the part of my brain that associates personal worth with the patch of land I happened to be born in functioned properly), is all about 30 seconds of ever-changing fun. Why? Clicky below to find out. Don’t stop reading here because it looks like the post ends. It doesn’t. That’s just the internet playing tricks on you.
Awkward, lazy “it’s like game x meets game y”? description? Sure, I can do that. It’s like Marble Madness meets Lemmings meets The Impossible Machine meets Peggle. It’s get-the-ball-to-the-hole stuff, but you’re using science to do it. Actual science! Fun science! For instance, fire boils water which makes steam which generates power which spins a fan which blows your ball into its goal.
Each level’s a puzzle – you have a limited number of ability tiles and must place them as logic or insanity dictates to make the ball traverse the map successfully. At the end of each, there’s a short educational message, sometimes of debatable relevancy. Being told, for instance, about the first man ever to die in the electric chair after completing the first level with Tesla coils in it kind of spoiled my mood. But at least now I can say I know who the first man to die in the electric chair was.
Still, it’s palpably made by sciencey types, and could do maybe with a little more unrestrained Yay! alongside the functional simplicity. For Launchball to be absolutely perfect, its lead artist should be On, the chap behind the wonderful and ludicrously cute Grow Games. And it should play a piece of classical music at the end of each level. Say, perhaps the Ode to Joy? And it needs unicorns.
Anyway, for God’s sakes stop sneering because I used the word ‘educational’ and go play it. It really is quite brilliant.