Squareball is hardcore, Squareball is frustration, Squareball is crack. Actually Squareball is a freaky occurrence in nature, a ball can’t be square. Somehow though the square ball in Squareball bounces quite well.
Squareball is a combination of Pong, an obstacle course and a side-scrolling platformer. The ball bounces constantly, and depending on the distance between the surfaces it bounce between the speeds varies. Short distance equals higher speed. The goal is to collect green holy shards to complete the level. You collect holy shards as well as precious bonus point stones by simply bouncing off them.
You don’t control the ball directly but rather the entire level. By dragging the level left and right you of course choose where the ball goes. The quicker you drag the more the level moves. But most of the time a slower more planned pace is required to succeed. Squareballs is not a game of chance where simply swiping manically will make you successful. No this is a game requiring some serious skill and determination. The ball has to stay within the level, and there are holes in the roof and floor where your ball tend to go off course. There is also red death traps to avoid, and three other different traps further bringing this game into some serious hardcore territory. Thankfully you get a checkpoint about half through a level which is certainly needed as the three lives you start with are easy to lose.
The presentation in Squareball is all retro goodness with some great 8-bit music to rock off to. I really enjoy the uncompromising retro design decision. It might look a bit bland and boring in the screenshots but this is not a game meant to be standing still. Movement is key, and once it moves you can’t keep more information active as it takes all focus timing your bounces, and completing the level within the time limit.
Squareball is a hard game, but once you complete a level it feels really rewarding. You can also go back and replay levels to get a higher score or just for the fun of revisiting a level that you might have spent hours trying to beat. There is a total of 20 levels in the game, and an unlockable challenge mode as well. I have played this game for about ten hours in the past week, and I still have only beat six of them.
If you are a gamer looking for a challenge in a game with spot on controls, look no further. Squareball is all you need to fill your gaming needs. Try out the lite version if you feel like you might not be able to stand the challenge.
Presentation and graphics
Squareball has uncompromising retro graphics in all aspects of the game. From the opening menu to the game over screen you get the blocky text and graphics of the past.
One thing that disturbs the actual gameplay is the fact that the time left and holy shards left to collect have their own bars at the top of the screen. When I wiz by with my square ball I often mistake those bars for roof, and consequently loose my ball when there is indeed no roof. This is an optical illusion most commonly seen when in a hurry; still I would like to have those bars somewhere else.
Squareball has great 8-bit chiptune music that really gets my heart pounding. It takes me back to games such as The Last Ninja and Flimbo’s Quest. The five different worlds have their own music with different pace. The game fades out your own music, and rightfully so as Squareballs needs to be experienced with the original sound.
If you mess up it is your entire fault, do not blame the controls. Squareball controls perfectly if you control it perfectly. When I loose a square ball I tend to adjust my way of controlling. You can swipe with any finger, and I play either with my thumbs or index fingers depending on the needs of the level. Quicker levels, with bigger swipes I use my thumbs for. Slower more deliberate levels I use my right index finger for. The game play is so much fun, and it is actually hard to explain how moving a level around a bouncing square ball can be fun so take my word for it, it simply is.
I will never be able to complete Squareball; I simply don’t have the focus needed as a parent with two baby girls, and a vast lack of sleep. But I will try to beat it, I really will because I enjoy playing it. Most gamers will have a hard time beating all 20 levels, and if you do I congratulate you as that means you are a true hardcore gamer. There is no online functionality, and I think that is fine. I never connected my Commodore 64 to anything but the RF-modulator to get the image over to a television instead of a monitor.
Squareball is a great game, a classic in the making. It takes time, skill and determination to beat it. It is some serious fun too, and if you are into retro gaming it is a must have.