What's that you say? You've got the making oppositely charged balls annihilate each other in a physicsy sort of way fever? Yeah, that bug has been making the rounds ever since we reviewed Collider last week. Don't worry, although it's very contagious, our doctor tells us that the only adverse effects are deep cravings for hot cross buns and a new-found appreciation for Paula Abdul.
Luckily, there is a new, cutting-edge treatment that is gaining popularity among sufferers. From the labs of Spil Games comes Bipole, a physics-heavy spin-cycle of a puzzler, conceived as part of the recent Global Game Jam. The goal is simple: annihilate all particles by colliding them with particles of the opposite charge — denoted here by color. Use the [left] and [right] arrow keys to rotate the level, taking advantage of gravity and electrostatic attraction/repulsion to gain momentum and drive particles towards annihilation. As with real-life charged particles, like colors repel while opposites attract.
An additional feature that will surely drive physics purists absolutely bonkers: pressing [space] locks the particles in position, completely erasing any momentum they had built up. During this time, other movable objects in the game will continue their motion, and you may still rotate the level. Pressing [space] again unfreezes the particles.
The Spil team also seems to have discovered the secret behind magnetic monopoles, for sprinkled throughout the 35 levels are dots of magnetic charge, which attract and repel according to the same rules as the particles. However, if a particle gets too close to one of these monopoles, its charge is reversed! The ability to switch particle polarity is a double-edged sword, hindering as often as helping, so be very careful how you use it. The monopoles can sometimes be toggled on and off by hitting a switch with a particle, which again can be both helpful and harmful. Finally, I probably don't need to even say this, but don't let the particles touch the evil-looking flashing material marked with a skull!
Analysis: Bipole plays like a bizarre hybrid between Sola Rola and Magnetism, capturing the addiction and frustration factors of both. Although there are certainly puzzle-solving elements to the game, success depends more on execution than planning, and that [r]estart button will come in quite handy after many a mistimed maneuver. The learning curve is perfectly executed through the first ten or so levels, after which the difficulty fluctuates like a slinky trying to yo-yo on a trampoline. Some levels are pretty straightforward and some are quite involved. There are two or three that rely heavily on luck (with the low point being the level that requires you to be holding down the arrow key from the very beginning), but for the most part the level design is solid.
With its chill soundtrack and sleek graphics, Bipole is almost as much fun to see and hear as it is to play. In fact, the authors have released not one, but two versions of the game, which I will call Noir and Cute. It appears to make absolutely no difference which you play, and you can even switch halfway through and your times will be loaded automatically.
So fear not, feverish fans of physics fun, for a prescription of particle projectiles will cure what ails ya.*
Thanks for the suggestion, Bryan!
*Side effects may include dizziness, visions of anteaters, and a startling wonderment at just where all that time got off to.