Tag Archives: All I know is… I got a lot of balls

REVIEW: Bopscotch

For all its many bright, colorful levels, numerous ‘costume changes’, and ball-shaped characters leaping throughout, Bopscotch ($2.99) is still an endless runner. Well, I suppose if you want to get technical, it’s an endless bouncer. There’s no ‘jumping’, per se. At any rate, you’re still stuck on auto-run, testing your reflexes and overcoming the same obstacles / hazards you’ve dodged and ‘cheated death’ from thousands of times over1.

And yet, ‘bouncing’ your way through each stage brings a subtle variation to the formula that is both mildly-refreshing and annoyingly-perverse. More on that later, first the details. Bopscotch features an assortment of customizable ball avatars2, called ‘boppers’, and offers up over 90 stages of well-designed— and yes, occasionally frustration-fueled— deathtraps and spikes, sprinkling in some additional tricks as you go along, like sudden speed changes, one-way signs, and breakable floors / ceilings to open up new paths.

You’re gathering candy as you go (which equates to your score), but the goal is, as always, misleadingly-simple: reach the exit of each level unscathed, and move on to the next. Of course, that objective and its cheery visuals are a lie; this is a masochistic endless runner, and you’re going to die, my friend. A lot. Instant retries are unlimited, natch, and there is the Willy Wonka-esque ‘golden ticket’, a single-use item that is occasionally handed out, and which permits you to skip the current stage in exchange.

Which you may need. Rather than traverse the game’s many dangers the old-fashioned way, Bopscotch‘s round-ish fellows are quite good at bouncing, forcing an entirely-different method of of movement and timing on the player. In addition to allowing more space to line up jumps, you can also tweak your speed on land and in the air, which is vital to crossing some gaps and ‘threading the needle’ between spikes. The tutorial level gives you the basics, but you’ll still need a bit of time to adjust to Bopscotch‘s particular cadence, if you will.

Bopscotch - Screen

Can be more complicated than it looks.

That adjustment is mostly painless, mind you, but it does throw a wrench into the traditional machine of understanding endless runners. The levels themselves are pre-set sequences, fun to figure out but built to be completed in a certain way, one that requires nigh-perfect timing on your part. Given the genre the game belongs to, you can expect to replay some stages over and over, along with all the colorful language that results from it.

In that way, Bopscotch is no different than something like, say, The Impossible Game. Clever idea and ‘ball cosplay’ aside, it’s designed to frustrate over long periods of time. You’ll find ample challenge and more than ample content (besides the 90+ level ‘Adventure’ mode, there’s a two-player local race option), but you still have to know what you’re getting yourself into. Proceed from there.


  1. Only to die a thousand deaths more in the next level or game. Vicious circle, Life’s a Bitch, [insert hopeless fatalism here], etc. 
  2. Knights, Teachers, Mummies, and the like; change your color, or swap out hats and shirts as you please, with new items unlocked for completing a series of levels. Hardly in-depth stuff, but hey, it’s fun for the dress-up crowd. 
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REVIEW: Impossiball

Two paddles, one ball1. The most simple formula in gaming. A lot of indie developers that are just starting out probably start out with that very formula. It’s easy, but nowhere near ‘unique’. No matter what name you give your version, Pong is still Pong. You can add your own style of paddle, design the strangest ‘ball’ you want, Pong is still Pong. It’s a classic, yes, perhaps even the classic; the game that moved the goalposts forward and got us to where we are today. Yet, any way you want to slice it, Dark Duo‘s Impossiball ($1.00) is still Pong.

Well, Pong with ‘500 balls onscreen at once’ Pong, that is. Why so many balls? Because they can. Because we have the technology. Because subtlety is overrated. Impossiball‘s setup is nothing new; bare backgrounds, one paddle on each side of the screen (two can play locally, or there’s always the very clever AI), moving vertically, with you defending your end of the zone. Your paddle can also be angled, giving you some control over the ricochet, and how you’ll attack and / or defend. Again, nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Then there’s that whole ‘500 balls’ thing to start off each round.

As in Golf, your first swing makes all the difference, and determines how that particular round is going to end up. Ditto for Impossiball. The more balls you keep in play initially, the more pressure you put on your opponent to return that volley. Despite your best efforts, you’re going to miss quite a bit2, but that number naturally decreases as the match goes on, until you’ve whittled it down to a manageable amount. From there, standard rules apply.

Impossiball - Screen

There are a total of six powerups you can scoop up, too, that can help tilt the odds in your favor, albeit temporarily. These include the typical ‘lengthen your paddle’3, slow down / speed up tricks, and, for maximum frustration (especially at the beginning of a round), inverted controls. Depending on your chosen score limit / skill, games can last five minutes or twenty minutes.

Still, Pong is still Pong, and once the novelty of the 500-ball opening volley wears off, you’re left with the same formula that’s been done to death. Impossiball can absolutely be entertaining if you’ve got a friend nearby, but solo, you won’t get much mileage out of it.

 


  1. I’m talking about the game, not some obscure sexual fetish. Get your mind out of the gutter. 
  2. The best strategy I found was to start your paddle in the middle, then slide up at an angle as the balls drift in. You’ll still miss half, but you’ll also send a couple hundred balls straight at your opponent’s face! …Don’t even think it. Get your mind out of the gutter. 
  3. Seriously, I’m talking about the game, not slang for something else. Get. Your. Mind. …out of the gutter.