Someone once said that there’s great elegance to be found in simplicity. One button game design seems to reflect that sentiment perfectly. Whether you’re running for your life in Canabalt or trying to solve an endless series of mini-games in Click PLAY 2, these games are built around a single simple principle: you’ll never need to press more than one button. One Button Bob, as the name would suggest, is the latest game to showcase this style of gameplay.
While exploring a castle in search of treasure, Bob encounters all sorts of obstacles. He’ll trigger traps, walk aimlessly towards great chasms, and get tangled up in bats. This is where you come in. With the click of a mouse, you’ll be able to help Bob take the smart steps needed to progress through the castle and find his treasure.
Clicking the left mouse button will perform a different action in different scenarios. If he’s walking towards a big hole in the ground, clicking the mouse will make Bob jump. If he’s just triggered a spike to drop on his head, it will make Bob stop moving so he doesn’t walk into its path. The fun is in trying to figure out what each click will do in each stage, and then mastering that maneuver in later stages.
Of the 30 levels that make up One Button Bob, there are only 8 or so activities that you’ll actually encounter. You’ll revisit these activities as the game progresses. Each level is a little harder than the last, so while you might be clicking wildly to outrun a crumbling bridge, for example, you’ll need to click twice as fast when you’re outrunning a boulder 10 levels later.
There’s a great deal of variety in these 8 activities, but the experience loses some of its lustre after you’ve learned all the tricks you’ll need to know to complete the game. We would have loved if the game maintained the sense of discovery that the early levels offered throughout, but that simply wasn’t the case. It’s not that the game becomes dull by any stretch of the imagination, but we enjoyed discovering what the button press would do in each scenario so much that we would have really liked to see that continue for the remainder of the game.
Still, we understand why the developer made the choices they did here. Upon reaching the final level you’ll need to defeat a dragon using a variety of the skills you’ve developed over the course of the game – something that wouldn’t be as possible if each of the 30 levels preceeding it were wholly unique. In the encounter with the dragon, Bob will walk towards him throwing a boomerang while cannonballs rain down from above. Clicking will cause him to change direction, meaning you’ll have to get close enough to do damage yet back away when he starts to pursue while tap dancing between cannonballs. It’s a challenge to say the least.
One Button Bob is a fun and quirky little Flash game that can offer up a heck of a challenge in the later levels. It’s a great showcase for what one button game design can do, offering up a title that’s ridiculously simple to learn yet somewhat challenging to finish. Since the stages only take seconds to complete, you should be able to blast through all 30 levels in well under 5 minutes… but can you?