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Review: The Isoball Series

By Johnny Apocalypse

June 1, 2011

I’ve become a flash game addict. This sucks, because my computer isn’t fast enough to handle the flashiest flash games. Well, it also sucks because it absorbs too much of my free time, but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve found a few flash games that I’m willing to replay over and over, like Amateur Surgeon on the Adult Swim website (I’ll probably write an article about that someday), and Rebuild, the zombie strategy game by Sarah Northway. But the games that have really stolen my time lately have been the Isoball series.

The online pathway construction game Isoball has been known to drive players MAD!!!

And I know some of you are thinking I need to get a faster computer or faster internet, but my internet is plenty fast, I’m too cheap to get a better computer.

As of this writing, there are three Isoball games created by 3dleigh. The objective is simple enough- you have a ball in a wall, and a hole in the ground. Build a path that allows the fragile ball to roll successfully into the hole. If you mess up, erase the pieces and try again. If you succeed, on to the next level.

In each level you are given a set number of pieces, and you usually (but not always) have to use them all to get to the objective. You have flat blocks, sloped blocks for getting downhill, bridge pieces to cross gaps, and arrow pieces to change the direction you’re rolling. A few other pieces come into play later in the game, when things get complex.

You lose the level if your ball breaks (rolling too fast or falling off of a ledge), or if it rolls off the playing field into the abyss. But you have infinite lives, so don’t fret too much.

Sounds simple, right? In the end, it really is. Sure, the higher levels can get pretty tricky, but when you beat them you’ll end up smacking yourself in the head, asking “why didn’t I think of that earlier? It’s so simple!”

And that’s part of the beauty of the game. It really is simple. It just requires a little out-of-the-box thinking at times, and it doesn’t give you any new answers. You spend ten or fifteen levels thinking pretty basically- make the shortest, simplest path to the hole. Turn a corner here, ease up a down-slope there, and you have the solution. But then you’ll have to start modifying your thinking, and the game doesn’t give you any hints.

“I can’t get to the hole, my path has to be built in front of it!”

Try using a bridge piece, and rolling under it.

“And I can’t get my ball to ground level fast enough because the playing field isn’t big enough!”

Use bridge pieces to “expand“ the playing field.

Another nice feature about the games- the ability to change the quality of the game. If your computer is slow and outdated like mine, this helps the game run a bit quicker. And a lot of flash games don’t give you this option (Amateur Surgeon, for one), which is just plain elitist. “Your computer has to be this awesome to play the game!” Bullshit. My computer is still qualified to do lots of stuff. Write nonsense for Acid Logic, e-mail said nonsense to Forbis, surf Wikipedia, play Police Quest 2, and run Isoball at a reasonable speed.

“Well then you’re not good enough to play my flash game, Johnny! How do you like that?”

“Well is your flash game any good?”

“It looks amazing, of course it’s good!”

“But how about the gameplay? Is it challenging? Addictive? Easy to understand the rules?”

“Well, no. But it looks great!”

“Yeah, looks great, but sucks in every other aspect. Great choice, pal. I’m sticking with Isoball.”

That’s another great thing about this series, it doesn’t need incredible graphics, because it’s a simple layout. The blocks look like blocks, the ball looks like a ball. If I want incredible graphics, I’ll turn on my Playstation 3. But for internet games, I don’t need the same quality of graphics, I just want a fun diversion. Flash programmers don’t have to try to emulate the newest consoles.