Puzzle games have a weird history. It seems that they are either extremely popular and produce tons of sequels like Tetris or Bust-A-Move or they have a short life and are never heard form again. (Mr. Domino anyone?) The newest addition to the puzzle game genre is from the company Infogrames and it is called Ballistic. This a game that takes the basic concept of Bust a Move and throws it in a spiral. For a puzzle game this title meets all of the necessary requirements. It is fast and requires quick thinking and quick hands. Also, the strategy in it is far more than any of the Tetris clones. It mimics the building and preparing of something closer to Puzzle Fighter.
The game works like this: There are different color balls on a track and you must match up three or more in order to eliminate them. It sounds like a complete rip-off of Bust-A-Move, but it is much more complicated and quick. Instead of just moving down from the top of the screen the balls move in a spiral so they are going up, down, left, and right all at the same time. You are stuck in the center of it all shooting balls as fast as you can out of your spaceship in order to stop them from coming.
There are two different kinds of modes of ball shooting action. The first is similar to what would be an arcade mode had this been in the arcades. Basically the balls get faster and faster the more you hit them. After so many hit the game automatically moves on the next level and turns up the juice. Pretty soon more colors are added to increase the difficulty. Then the game gets so fast and complicated that only the experts will survive.
If this is too monotonous or difficult then there is also a stage-based game, which ends after each stage instead of continuing on like the arcade game. This allows the game to make each stage slightly different from the lst adding new features and challenges. Sometimes this will mean two intertwining spirals and sometimes you will get bridges over certain levels inhibiting you from hitting the levels that they cover.
The strategy in this game is simplistic but has enough depth to keep you addicted like a good puzzle game should. Basically whenever you make balls disappear the surrounding balls will come together so you want to make sure that they match up as well making it so that they disappear. This involves a lot of ball set-up and thinking since you have to set-up both sides of the future hit. The main difference in Ballistic from your run of the mill puzzle game is the fact that the game does not run up and down but rather in many directions. This really adds to the hectic nature and the fast gameplay that Ballistic excels in.
Will Ballistic be a puzzle game that will stand the test of time and produce many sequels due to its raging popularity? No, probably not. However, that still does not change the fact that it is a solid puzzle game with an easy to learn impossible to master concept and fast gameplay. It could quickly become addictive especially if you play regularly with friends. If you are a fan of games such as Bust-A-Move or I.Q. then I suggest you check this one out. It is a puzzle games' fan dream. Just be careful with your phrasing when you are trying to explain to your friends how to hit the blue balls.
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