Amberial: Nebulosa Realms
Amberial: Nebulosa Realms is the latest from OddGoo and sequel to the first Amberial game released last June. The mechanics of the original are put to an olympic workout; rolling a ball around has never felt so fresh. From the terrestrial furnace to the skyways, to outer space and distant nebulae, this game explores both increasingly exotic settings and increasingly clever level design.
The [left] and [right] arrow keys move your ball. Since you lack the ability to jump you must bend the bouncing physics to your will in order to get around. There is an orange swirl somewhere in each level—similar to the one carved on ball that you navigate—and you must get there while avoiding hazards and the ever present bottom-of-the-screen. Each level throws new variations and gadgets at you, demanding adaptation, while several play with gravity, throwing you up and down in rythmic alternations.
Getting to the end of each level within the time limit gets you a bonus medal, and there is also a special exit (marked with a big "A") that represents an achievement as well. Completing all levels with all possible accolades unlocks secret content, available in the uppermost menu tab, including the Tower Of Glory.
Analysis: Amberial is to platformers as Sonny is to RPGs: the zenith of the genre implemented in Flash. There is only a small flaw to mention before I gush on the greatness: I wish the camera would scroll down a bit more so I can see where I am liable to fall and move accordingly. Otherwise, this is purity; the game takes an absolute minimal approach to mechanics. From the basic theme of a ball bouncing, with a glassy audio effect you come to love, a multifaceted gameplay is worked out in 22 finely crafted levels. One level introduces speed boosting and unfolds around that; another is based upon bounce-pads, launching you from asteroid-to-asteroid, then tops it all off with some bumper-based wall-jumping. A few more levels takes the classic maze or obstacle-course approach, but fits them within an interesting combination of impediments. You never feel like things are becoming repetitive. There's even a boss fight at the end of the "official" levels. Once you've completed all the levels you can go back and try to attain mastery of them in an attempt to finally reach the top of the Tower of Glory, which appropriately tops out your mental calibration to the dynamic and consummates it with a happy smile of accomplishment.
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