Help the professor rescue Proto and Widget in this highly original ball-matching puzzle game!
- Dozens of levels
- Excellent graphics and music
- Strong narrative
- Match balls with adjacent balls of a different color to make them heavier and gather energy
- Create Mega, Giga and Hyper Balls for larger ball weights
- Play against the clock and achieve Ace Times
- Collect photos and high scores
- Three game modes
- Nice difficulty curve
- Meteor Bonus stage was difficult to control
Ballhalla is a free marble shooter puzzle game for PC, developed by ZC Funcraft. Help Professor Quark recover his mechanical friend Proto and his beloved cat Widget from a distant world by solving a range of different puzzles. The game is available here as a trial version only. The full version is available externally.
The game has a strong narrative direction to start the player off. Professor Quark is conducting research concerning interdimensional matter transportation, accompanied by his beloved cat and his robotic friend Proto. Proto was intended to be used as the guinea pig for the experiment, however when the Professor's cat decides to hop in, too, they both become trapped in this new world. Determined to get them back, the Professor asks that they send reports as regularly as possible while he finds a solution.
Core Gameplay and Mechanics
While on the surface the game may look like a match-3 game, its core mechanics and quite different. The game offers the player three game modes: Adventure Mode, Relax Mode and Time Challenge Mode. By playing through Adventure mode you will unlock the remaining two modes. Gameplay is structured into several dozen levels in which a series of balls are laid out in rows in a grid. The main objective of each level is to fully fill an energy meter located at the bottom of your screen. Clicking a ball that has adjacent balls of a different color will cause that ball to absorb the others and become heavier. The heavier they become, the more energy they have. Every few turns, a 'Wipe' will occur which will gather all of that energy and send it to your energy meter. While in theory it sounds complicated, gameplay design is actually rather clever and feels quite original compared to standard match-3 type games. The controls are simple point-and-click and the user interface is highly intuitive.
In each level, the grid will be of a similar size, but matches will be harder to find as you progress. The weight of balls is indicated by a number in their center. In the center of each level, you will also find two squares which center the grid. Placing too much weight on one side of the grid will cause it to tilt to one side. If it tilts too much or too quickly and rotates 45 degrees it will cause you to fail the level. To prevent this from happening, there is a Panic Button. However, for those who want to achieve perfect scores, the Panic Button will remove that possibility. This demonstrates the multifaceted nature of gameplay, necessitating that a player be aware of the time until Wipes, the axis of the grid, the energy meter as well as the remaining matches on the board.
As you complete levels, you will be rewarded with photos as well as a list of achievements. When enough photos are collected the player can complete a 'dropping' puzzle by dropping pieces of a photo into place. Perfect completion entails completing a level within the 'Ace Time' specified and without using a Panic Button. For high scores, try to match the most matches in the least amount of time while keeping the grid balanced. Trophies are also given for bigger achievements in the game such as completing game modes or achieving ace times in all levels.
If a ball achieves a weight of 10 it will become a Mega Ball. These remain after wipes and can be used after a level to generate an even bigger score in the Meteor Bonus stage. During a level they will also provide a constant source of energy
If a ball achieves a weight of 10 it will become a Mega Ball. These remain after wipes and can be used after a level to generate an even bigger score in the Meteor Bonus stage. During a level they will also provide a constant source of energy. Just be careful that things don't get too heavy. I had some issues tilting the stage during the Meteor Bonus, but nothing that a little practice didn't fix! A Gigaball and Hyperball can also be created, with weights of 20 and 50. Doing so will unlock even more bonus levels between main ones. During a level a player will also find various Item Balls which illuminate matches, prevent tilting and other handy power-ups.
Graphics, Visuals and Sound
The professor and his pals impressed me throughout my review gameplay. The colors are bright and vibrant. The photo-driven narrative at the beginning was quite cute, followed by a brief tutorial about the game. The grid itself is of excellent quality, with great use of lighting for the balls and some very attractive animations when they are wiped. The voice acting for the professor was also quite realistic. Most of all I enjoyed the futuristically themed music which accompanied levels and menus.
Ballhalla is a fantastically original ball-matching puzzle game. Gameplay and controls are simple to pick up but difficult to master, particularly if you want to achieve ace times in all levels. The range of ball types, bonus levels, puzzles and achievements are bound to keep players busy for hours. The graphics, visuals and music in the game are highly impressive and give everything a futuristic feel. The story, while slightly derivative, was still quite engaging. The one issue I found with the game was that its meteor bonus level was difficult to handle. Other than that, the game was highly entertaining, well paced, and not too difficult - just perfect for a puzzle game. If you're scientifically inclined and want a fun and engaging puzzle experience, give this game a download.