Factory Balls Christmas Edition
The Christmas season is upon us, and especially a time for that oh-so-wonderful tradition of decorating the tree. How about we start a new tradition? Let's decorate a tree by playing Factory Balls Christmas Edition! Bart Bonte has come up with this fantastic new edition of Factory Balls that although fun and challenging isn't nearly as frustrating as the real thing.
If you've never played any of the JIG favorite Factory Balls games (and why haven't you, anyway?) then the premise is simple. You begin with a blank white ball, and are given a pattern that you need to reproduce on that ball. Using cans of paint and various tools, you mask or block out certain areas of the ball and then dip it into a particular color. Step by step, masking and uncovering and dipping, you will eventually be able to reproduce the given template. Simply click and drag a blank ball to one of the tools then drag to a paint bucket and see what happens. Removing the tools is also simple, just drag the ball back to the tool "shelf" to remove it and see the lovely revealed pattern. Alternate between the tools and the buckets of paint and eventually you will get the pattern and move on to the next.
Factory Balls Christmas Edition is sort of a Factory Balls light in that it confines itself simply to recreating paint patterns, no pulling or cropping surfaces here. Instead, you have a basic toolbox of seasonal items: Santa hats, belts, suspenders, earmuffs, and bobble hats (along with several colors of paint) to recreate various decorations on a Christmas tree. Also unlike the other games in the series, the tools never change, so you get a chance to become really proficient in their use. Hopefully. Rather than dropping the completed item into a box for shipping (as you do with the other Factory Balls games) the finished ornament goes back onto the lovely tree in the background.
Along with the tools and paint come a few more features, such as a continuous loop of Christmas-type music to set the mood (or turn you homicidal, depending on how long you listen to it). There is also, thankfully, a mute button for when it all becomes a bit much. The game automatically saves when you leave, giving you the option of returning to where you left off. And along with the tools is a very handy trash can where you can discard your mistakes and begin anew.
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If there is a minor niggle about the game, it is in the rigid and precise order in which you have to use the tools. For instance, if you want to use the belts in combination with any of the hats, the belts have to go onto the ball first. If you want to use the earmuffs in combination with the hats, the hats have to go on before the earmuffs. And you have to remove the tools in the reverse order that you put them on. In some of the later levels when you are using all three things in various combinations, it can get a little tricky remembering the exact order and where you need to drag the ball to remove the various items.
That is only a minor quibble, though. Factory Balls Christmas Edition has all of the fun and challenge of the regular series combined with a heartwarming and less stressful touch of the holiday season. No physical effort, no reminding yourself that attempted treeicide is a bad thing... all in all a perfect way to enjoy this time of year without most of the baggage that comes with it. And for those who are not celebrating this particular holiday, it's still a fantastic, challenging, and amusing game to play. What are you waiting for? Get decorating!