Mr. Bounce is the sort of game that lulls you into complacency with familiar mechanics, then body-slams the snot out of you just when you think you've gotten the hang of it. It's the latest effort from Pixelate designers, Andreas Zecher and Martin Snuggles (who incidentally have also authored a nice series on Understanding Games).
At first, Mr. Bounce seems like a simple Breakout-inspired game with a slight twist – you can control the height of your bounce by using the [up] and [down] arrows. A helpful dotted line traces out the ball's future trajectory, and pressing [spacebar] will temporarily activate slow-motion. So with all these handy features, where's the challenge, right?
Well, right about the your brain starts going on auto-pilot, Mr. Bounce delivers a hefty wake-up smack upside the head. From out of nowhere come walls, moving walls, disappearing walls, movable blocks, tracers, wind, lions, tigers and bears, oh my! OK, maybe not those last three, but I think the point's been made. As you bounce your way through the five worlds, the game presents more and more challenges to conquer. You start off with 5 balls, but good scores will earn you extras, so a miscue here and there isn't going to totally mess up your game.
Speaking of scores, the game authors made an excellent choice to add replay value by assigning increased value to circles of the same color collected consecutively – that is without hitting the paddle or a differently-colored circle in between. This mechanic becomes particularly relevant in the early levels, when survival isn't so difficult and color clusters abound. In some cases, you can multiply your level score tenfold or more by collecting the circles in the right order. Unfortunately, the game doesn't keep track of high scores, so much of the emphasis on score is lost when the last ball slips away (or when you complete the game).
For a simple game like Mr. Bounce, it's hard to go wrong with brightly-colored vector graphics, though the soundtrack left something to be desired (namely coherence). Still, it's easy to turn off by clicking the moving bars in the upper right corner. On the whole, though, Mr. Bounce is a delight to play and replay!