Balliland XL – The Jawbreaker of Puzzle Games
Tested version: 1.1
Latest version: 1.25
Requires Android: from 2.2
What do the three little Balliland balls and jawbreakers have in common? Sure, they’re round, but they’re also both ‘maddeningly addictive’, in the sense that you won’t be able to let up till you’ve cracked that jawbreaker and solved all the puzzles.
Balliland XL is an addictive puzzle game that was originally launched for iOS (hence the application’s name, no doubt) and is now available for the Android platform. It promises a good work out for the little grey cells, so let’s dive right in and discover what it has in store for us!
Features & Use
Tested on: Samsung Galaxy Tab
When first starting up Balliland XL the RebelCrew Games logo flashes across the screen. I got a good feeling about today’s featured application by looking at said logo alone: a militant, possibly guerilla R-shaped cactus wearing a Che Guevara style beret and staring at the user with one huge, googly eye. Now, call me a pushover, but I think that when a small group of developers puts so much thought and effort into making their logo alone it can only bode well for their actual products.
The RebelCrew gang promise amazing graphics, so, in true military fashion we decided to give Balliland a baptism of fire and do our test runs on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. If an application’s graphics are not top notch they tend to look pretty crumby on the Galaxy Tab, but Balliland, true to form, is crisp and crystal clear.
The gameplay is a very simple one: there are three balls (an 8ball and two others which I have not been able to identify—give us a shout or leave a comment below if you can tell us what the other two balls are), and these three balls have to be guided into a straight line – horizontal or perpendicular – in order to get to the next level. Sounds simple enough, and at the beginning it is – the first few levels strike me as being warm-up rounds – but soon the puzzles become trickier and more items appear on the screen that either have to be manipulated in order to solve a puzzle (crates of wood, e.g.) or avoided in order to make it to the next level alive (saws, lazers, e.g.).
The playing field is a grassy grid comprised of rows and columns, with beautiful graphics including the occasional shadow of a bird flying overhead. At the beginning of each level the balls are located somewhere on this grid, and it’s your job to push them around till they form a straight line. The balls (and some other items including the crates and some arrow signs) can be pushed up/down and left/right, but never diagonally. When a ball is pushed off screen it reappears on the other side and pops right back into its original position.
There are coins to be collected along the way, and you can boast with your scores via OpenFeint. The application’s score is lovely: melodic and unobtrusive, it’s the type of game music that enhances the experience rather than frustrate players. The music also reflects the game’s general tone: it isn’t fast paced, there’s always room for reflection and for taking a step back if you feel you’ve gone up a blind alley. If ever you are really stuck with a puzzle you have the option to reset to previous moves by hitting the arrow button, or to start the whole level all over again by hitting the information button and then selecting ‘replay’.
What I like about Balliland XL: It’s fun, it’s very well designed, the soundtrack and sound FX are great and it’s the type of game that you can play over and over again whenever you’re in the mood to kill some time, despite it being so simple.
What I don’t like about Balliland XL: Without wanting to reveal too much about my cerebral abilities, some of the higher levels presented themselves as real head-scratchers to me. On some occasions I literally could not figure a level out. While help is provided in the form of hints (how many hints remain available to you is indicated next to the question mark button), and brief messages (‘tutorials’) explain how certain items function, etc., it did happen once or twice that I just wished the way to resolve the puzzle would reveal itself to me. That said, I’m sure other players are better at solving puzzles than I am, and won’t find this to be a problem.
Balliland XL is a great game for when you’re waiting around in-between appointments, or even when you just want to laze around and spend some time playing a game that is challenging enough to keep you on your toes, but not frustrating to the point you want to pull your hair out at the roots. The game’s fun graphics and soundtrack combined with an addictive gameplay guarantee a good time.
The forest edition is free of charge, levels are activated as they are resolved.
Screen & Controls
Controls are easy breezy: everything is available via touchscreen and the game’s sensors are phenomenal. The Balliland XL graphics, as mentioned, are very well done.
Speed & Stability
Balliland XL performed really well throughout our test runs: loading times were minimal and it was an overall fluid experience, save for one occasion when I experienced two force close, but this may come down to my having just switched on the tab and not waited for everything to load properly before I started up Balliland.
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