Review: BurnBall

2009-01-13 03:09:29 UTC

On 2008-12-12, Tim Haines, the developer of BurnBall, contacted me on Twitter to offer me a free promo code. I accepted, and played the game on my first-generation iPod touch.

The game is basically Qix with a Sonic-the-Hedgehog-esque theme. Based on that, I give you this pull-quote:

If you like Qix, you’ll like BurnBall.

As it happens, I don’t like Qix. The main thing about Qix that frustrates me is that enemies can kill you just by touching your trail while you’re cutting off another piece of the level. This makes some sense for the Tron-based theme of some of the other Qix work-alike games, but it has the effect on gameplay that you can’t make any but incremental progress, especially after the first few levels, as the number of enemies goes above 2. Your only hope is that your enemies will see some shiny thing and leave you alone long enough to let you complete your wall; otherwise, you can only complete the level a little bit at a time.

One way in which somebody could improve Qix would be to let enemies go right through your wall, and compensate by making them more aggressively pursue you. Then, you’d stand a reasonable chance of completing the wall, if you can just dodge the enemies. Another way would be to have enemies bounce off the wall, which would provide you with a way to restrain them while you draw more wall—but that may make the game too easy.

BurnBall is graphically different enough from Qix that it could pull off either change, although it probably should be an alternate game mode.

So, basically, the only reason I dislike BurnBall is because I dislike Qix games in general.

That said, BurnBall is a very good Qix game, being both well-drawn and responsive to your control. (Since I originally drafted this post, there’s been an update that tweaked the tilt response; I haven’t tested it.)

BurnBall has an advantage over Qix work-alikes on other platforms, in that you can move in any direction—you’re not limited to up, down, left, and right. You move by tilting the iPhone.

Another advantage of BurnBall over other Qix work-alikes is that Haines holds high-score competitions with monetary prizes on the app’s Facebook page. He also posts a free promo code every time that page gets another 100 subscribers, so you may not even have to buy the game.

If you’d rather not wait for the next promo code, the app is 99¢ on iTunes.

2 Responses to “Review: BurnBall”

  1. Tim Haines Says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful review Peter. You’ve made some good suggestions here about alternate game modes. I’ll give them some consideration. The white robots chase you down. After I implemented that I found it quite enjoyable to toy with them, so it will be fun to experiment with the black robots not being able to hit your wall, but instead to chase you also.

  2. Nate Says:

    This is well expressed. Ironically enough, I was just expressing the “tron-like” aspects with my wife this morning and had stated a similar thing: that to “die” because my trail is touched, makes the game QUITE hard in the later levels. I don’t know HOW some of the top scorers (in the FB contest) managed to get so high.

    The flip side to this, is the game at least does not have a time-limit to be imposed against this dynamic so.. I suppose with patience and time, the levels can be beat..

    Fun game though.

    PS: The FB competitions is a very clever touch..

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