Linkaball


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Rating: 3.5/5 (46 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (8)

zxoLinkaball.jpgEver find yourself playing Boomshine (or one of the numerous spinoffs) and feeling a yearning for something more? Just a tad more control, perhaps. Ooh, and strategy! Everyone likes strategy!

Well, even if you think Boomshine is fine just as it is, you'll want to check out Linkaball from UK developer OMGames. Rather than attempt the futile task of beating Boomshine at its own game, Linkaball takes the gameplay in a new direction. Each level starts with a number of colored balls bouncing around the screen. Click the mouse to place a single white ball. If a regular colored ball strikes a white one, it starts a chain of that color; any white balls or balls of the same color that strike the chain are added to it. However, the chain – and your precious white ball – is destroyed if it is struck by balls of any other color. After a few seconds without any new collisions, the chain will break apart and all of the balls in it turn white. The level is complete when the required number of white balls are created.

"Now hold on!" you may be thinking, "That doesn't sound very controlled to me, and didn't you mention something about strategy?" Well, Linkaball does offer a number of ways to interact with the field of bouncing balls. Unfortunately, utilizing each one subtracts from your score, some more than others. The cheapest and least reliable method is to click on the field of play to generate a field that repels the white balls. The field doesn't do much when all of your white balls are tied up in chains though, so OMGames have provided a number of power-ups, usable once per level (for a more substantial price, of course). These powers are gradually given to you as you pass through the game's 20 levels.

So where's the strategy? The strategy is a lie. Well, sort of. The repelling field can sometimes be used to increase your score by maximizing the chain length, but you run a higher risk of collision with a different color. Apart from that, the powers are not at all cost-effective, and there's no penalty for restarting a level, so if you restart often enough, eventually you'll hit a configuration that maximizes your score without having to activate any powers. Realistically, though, few people possess the patience or the free time to wait for that perfect setup, so the power costs factor into some important decision-making about the trade-off between score and patience. Of course, if you're just trying to get through the game with nary a care regarding score, the powers can be very helpful, yet they still cost enough that you'll have to be prudent in their use.

The collision sound effects are quite soothing, though I recommend muting the music (unless you like 6-second loops). This provides a decidedly Boomshinelike feel to Linkaball, yet it is in fact markedly different, right down to the basic gameplay dynamics.

Play Linkaball

Or, Play Linkaball at Kongregate

5 Comments

Oh, man, it's just too hard for me...

The idea and the execution is good the way it is - it's just too hard for me. I found it impossible to watch all four corners for unwanted collisions...

I also found that there's a little lag in the ball direction reversal after hitting the bonus icon.

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Anonymous July 11, 2008 7:29 PM

*pout* I made it to level 20 pretty easily, but now I'm stuck :/ And I only have 300 points.

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Is it just me or is this game really boring? Even with the turbo button, I don't see how this game just doesn't come down to balls randomly bouncing around. The repulsing rings and the power-ups don't seem very useful, and it's annoying that they take away points.

Are you supposed to calculate the trajectory of the balls in your head or something? Maybe this game is too cerebral for me.

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It's not just you, the game is boring, and I'm sorry to say that because it looks like they put a lot of work into it.

It's not very visually appealing, which was the main hook of Boomshine (for me anyway), and it's too complicated and too simple at the same time.

"Avoid the black ball, use a powerup, add a rainbow ball ... OR, just put the white ball somewhere, check your email, fix a snack, and come back to discover that you've moved on to the next level."

I would suggest making it simpler and prettier, but then you'd pretty much have Boomshine.

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I've played this before, and got really aggravating for me on the last level. I personally think Boomshine is better.

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