If you're a fan of Flash games, chances are that you already know about Civiballs. It's a seriously addictive physics-based puzzler with a penchant for balls and jugs (heh); balancing some tricky solutions with incredibly intuitive mechanics.
And now we can play it on the move thanks to its new iOS version. Flash? Ha! Where we're going, we don't need Flash. Plus, our iThings don't support it anyway, more to the point.
Each single-screen stage contains a selection of platforms, coloured jugs and corresponding colour-coded balls that are suspended from ropes. Your only way of interacting with the scenery is to cut these ropes (familiar, somehow?), causing their balls to fall down, roll and bounce around the scenery as gravity dictates. Of course, the key to marrying the right balls with their matching jugs is to release them at the right time - and make sure that the moving scenery provides them with a clear path to their destination.
Naturally there's a lot more to it than that. A selection of grey spheres can be used to knock your balls into new positions. You can trigger collapsible platforms, crossbows and cannons by cutting their respective ropes. In fact, what starts as a profoundly simplistic premise soon becomes a brainteaser of the highest order, as well as a mash-up of various different puzzling styles. Civiballs is similar to plenty of games, but there's really nothing else quite like it on the market.
The addiction factor stems from two collectible jewels in each stage, which require precise timing and a bit of luck to secure. Trust me, your lust for shiny shiny jewels can become a dangerous obsession, especially when your tube stop is minutes away.
Since there are only a limited number of ropes to cut per stage, Civiballs is much easier to get to grips with than a lot of competing puzzlers. Timing and order is everything, but you'll soon learn the gist of what each level demands from you through simple trial and error. Experimenting with everything just find out what happens is a key part of the process, and a fun part at that.
My one major criticism of Civiballs lies with the art direction. The levels are functional enough, but the washed-out colour palette lacks the vibrancy and excitement we tend to expect from Chillingo titles. What's more, the few comic book storyboards are rather crudely designed to say the least. What little story Civiballs tries to tell is lost when we simply don't care - and don't want to care - about the badly-drawn geek and his monkey/bear thing.
- Compelling and addictive gameplay
- Extremely intuitive
- Powerful physics engine
- Bland visuals
Summary: Civiballs is a weighty, addictive and unique puzzler that deserves a place in your portable library.
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.