In Angular Momentum, Robert Berrier's and Roland Ariens' entry into our 4th CGDC, players are plunged into what seems to be the innards of some sort of machine (it looks a bit like a futuristic ant farm) and must guide the requisite ball through a series of chambers. The levels boast twisty, up and down landscapes worthy of Sonic the Hedgehog; tools such as speed boosts and jump platforms will help you reach the exits, but beware of the eeeevil orange panels that will send you back to the start.
Controls are simple to the max using the arrow keys: [right] moves the ball right, and [left] moves it left (except in some later levels, where [up] allows the ball to levitate). The game is divided into six sets of levels; the first five introduce new gameplay elements, along with plenty of instruction to ensure that the player never becomes confused, and the sixth is a set of "master levels" that combines all previous components into a more challenging experience.
Analysis: Momentum, not actual interactive gameplay, is the star of the show here. Often enough the player barely has to control the ball to reach the exit; in one early level I believe I used the arrow keys all of four times, with the various added elements (speed boosts, etc) in the level taking care of the rest. While sitting back and watching the ball fly through tunnels and soar over traps is kinda neat, I'm not sure it constitutes a truly immersive gameplay experience. Later, more complex levels somewhat ameliorate this flaw, but on the whole I found the game to be much too easy.
A lack of environmental variety was also an issue for me. Each level looks largely the same: gray tunnels and walls with bright blue, orange and purple accents to denote traps and tools. While I did like the sleek lines and minimalist aesthetic, some sort of diversity would have made each individual chamber (or set of levels) more memorable. The soundtrack, while appropriate to the feel of the game, is a single loop that ultimately became a bit annoying to me.
I've made a lot of criticisms here, but make no mistake: Angular Momentum has some really great elements going for it. I thought that the ball physics theme was present and modeled excellently, and I also really liked how the individual levels were entered and exited by tubes, creating the feel of a journey through a single structure. Maybe best of all, Robert and Roland have created a really fantastic level editor/builder, where players can design and play their own creations. I did notice, however, that this element is missing everywhere the game is hosted except for the CGDC4 server. This is really too bad, as without the level builder players will miss out on a great deal of the fun.
I'd advise Robert and Roland to create some more "master levels" and shorten the tutorials, as well as consider adding a bit of verve to the look of the game. You guys have great ideas and a promising start; with some more work and refinement Angular Momentum could be really excellent. And for goodness sakes, make sure that level builder is present anywhere the game can be found!
Flawed but fun, and certainly worth a few minutes of your time:
Jay - I really wanted to love this entry since it looks like it has everything going for it: beautiful, photorealistic 3D pre-rendered graphics, excellent presentation, a groovy soundtrack, and enough levels to keep you busy for a while. Unfortunately, the level design is the weakest link here, leaving much to be desired. Perhaps that was because of the relatively short development period, as 2 months is not really a very long time to create such a polished competition entry as this endeavors to be. Still, it's a fun little game with tremendous potential. I would also like to encourage Robert and Roland to take development of the title further and give us the best set of master levels they can muster. Well done!