This time of year, as a good chunk of the country is still waiting for spring to, er, spring, nothing beats lazing away on a damp Sunday afternoon than by clicking through a fun casual game. Why, you ask? They’re simple to pick up and play but somehow impossible to put down.
The latest time-waster is Inca Ball, a game that resembles the popular Zuma game from PopCap, but with a few new twists.
First, the basics. In case you haven’t clicked through one of these arcade puzzle games before, players will see a string of multi-colored balls roll out onto the screen, which follows a specific pattern that varies from level to level. The balls follow a slow and winding path to a skull, and if the chain reaches the end, you lose a life. Later on in the game there will be more than one skull you must avoid on the same screen. Your mouse controls a cannon that shoots a ball towards the chain, and your goal is to create at least three adjacent balls of the same color, one of which is the ball you fired. Doing this destroys the balls, and so it’s your goal to destroy the chain before it reaches the skull. If you don’t like the colored ball your cannon is about to shoot, such as green, you can right-mouse click to swap it for the next one, which may be yellow.
If you play well – such as causing a “combo” by chaining together successive matches – you will notice a power-up fall onto the screen, which you can collect by positioning your cannon right underneath it. A power-ups works
to your advantage, temporarily, such as causing all the balls to stop rolling towards the skull or giving you a helpful vertical beam of colored light to better aim your shot, and so on. You can also catch a colored ball that falls onto the screen, which will cause all the same-colored balls to explode.
While Inca Ball steals this game-play design – as well as the Incan theme – what’s unique here is a store you can visit in between the 60 levels and use your points to purchase “artifacts.” Similar to power-ups, these artifacts can help you – except you choose when the artifact by used by clicking on the power-up on the bottom of the screen during game-play. The “Rain” artifact, for example, which causes water to shower down on the screen and remove balls, costs 15,000 points, while the “Chainbomb,” which does more damage, costs 20,000 points. You can also buy more lives for 40,000 points a pop.
But the problem with buying more lives is the game keeps going and going – in fact, I didn’t lose any lives until level 12 or so, but I still had 13 lives left because I purchased a few before this time. This might make the game feel too easy for some.
Another problem is there’s only one game mode to play, compared to other Zuma-style games that offer an alternate spin on the main “aim n’ shoot” game-play. Inca Ball, however, does promise a “prize” for those who complete the game in its entirety. Need a hint? This reward will come in handy even when you’re not playing the game…
One last issue, which could be problematic for some, is a bug found in level 8. All of a sudden my cannon didn’t have a ball in it to shoot. The game couldn’t continue until I clicked to save and exit, and restarted again.
Despite some shortcomings, Inca Ball is an above average title that, while not too unique, should satiate fans of Zuma-style games.