Games For Brains (take two)

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 And the Halo 3 reference was, I'm sure, devastating in its timeliness originally but now reads as odd and outdated.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.

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24 Comments »

  1. Andrew Farrell says:

    Did he die on purpose?

  2. Seniath says:

    The description reminds me a bit of an old amiga game, Mouse Impossible. I shall give it a try when I get in from Uni…just as soon as I fill in this damn FYP form.

    Oh, and; PEGGLE!

  3. Kast says:

    Wow… that is actually fun. 0.0

    To quote that same ‘charismatic stallion’, Yahtzee: “You know, ‘Fun’? What we had before games became a second job?”

  4. Hugh says:

    I’m getting a big fat “Service Unavailable” from the entire Science Museum website….

    Is it a web-based game? Since I, a couple of years ago, moved into the world of OSX, my game-playing options have been severely limited….. Reading your recent posts about TF2 have made me yearn to put together a game-specific Windows box….

  5. Alec Meer says:

    Yes, web-based. It’s been Dugg this morning, so I’m guessing the servers will be panicking for a few hours. Keep trying sporadically. ‘Sworth it.

  6. Martin Coxall says:

    Fluffburgers.

    This may well be the greatest waste of work time in hours.

    THIS INTERFERES HEAVILY WITH YOUR WORKING DAY.

  7. milko says:

    now the link works but the game seems to have vanished. OR I am being blind, I don’t know.

  8. milko says:

    Oh wait they’ve updated the site to explain:
    “Sorry! Launchball has been a bit of a victim of its own success – we have had to take it down temporarily.
    Watch this space…”

    I am relieved to be not blind but disappointed to be not playing.

  9. Alec Meer says:

    Gah, how annoying. Sorry, folks.

  10. Hugh says:

    No worries! Will be watching that space!

    Will just have to go back to playing (well, once every hour or so) Travian….

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’ll get around to a proper Travian post next week, I suspect.

    KG

  12. MaW says:

    Took me a while to spot the message about it being taken down, it’s not exactly in a very good place to be noticed by people following a direct link in.

    Bad Science Museum web team. Bad!

  13. Pod says:

    Can any one offer a temporary mirror?

    Pleeeeease? :)

  14. Seniath says:

    As an aside, this thing is working again, as the RPS community found out last night. Hilarity and productivity loss ensued.

  15. arqueturus says:

    Utterly brilliant.

  16. dartt says:

    I was very tired and wanted to sleep but you made me stay awake with this game, you took my free will!

  17. Frosty840 says:

    Excellent. Tried to play this one back when it was first mentioned, but was too late.
    Reminds me of Bill’s Tomato Game, which is a pretty good thing…

  18. Joe says:

    totally fantastic – does anyone know who developed it?

  19. Ben says:

    It was developed by Preloaded…

  20. bob mhicano says:

    i think its all bull shit and u should quit the game

  21. The_B says:

    Awww, guys – can we keep the troll? I want to put it in a cage and ruffle its hair.

  22. TBSliver says:

    Ok i just lost about…… 5 hours on that game. some of them are slightly headscratching…

  23. denisha says:

    i dont kno wat to say so im just going to say this thing is cool