Ball On A Wall manages to take a basic and simple concept and turn it into something fresh and clever

SmallGreenHill’s Ball On A Wall is, without a doubt, one of the more pleasant surprises to arrive on the iPad. At first glimpse, it looks like something that’s too simple to really have much lasting appeal. However as soon as you start playing, it quickly becomes obvious that this is a title full of depth. It’s a strange, fun little game, and there’s a lot to enjoy.

The goal of the game is to get the ball to collect all the “pickups” that appear on the screen. The pickups are essentially bombs on a timer that randomly pop up and float for a little while a colored wheel counts down. Hitting one of these will unleash a horde of miniature cogs to collect. If the time runs out before you can pick it up, though, the thing will explode. This is exactly what you don’t want to happen, since the explosion destroys an area of blocks in the level.

These blocks are the crucial part of the game. When you tap on them, they pop out of the background and become physical objects for the ball to bounce off. Using these blocks to create platforms and walls is necessary to keep the ball from rolling/dropping off the edge of the screen. You can only activate a certain number of blocks at a time, but the game is fairly generous when it comes to limits. As the game progresses, the blocks are made from different materials, which can affect how the ball moves.

Collecting the pickups is only part of your mission, though. There are a number of side objectives in each level, including collecting the cogs released by the pickups, getting the ball to make contact with pre-ordained “color cubes” and making it through a level with all of your lives. Meeting each of these requirements awards you with a star that goes into your final ranking with the level. You can even collect in-game gold to buy special skins for the ball.

By tapping on the ball, you can cause it to jump into the air. This can be done three times before the ball has to touch down again in order to reset things. This is useful when you’ve got to get across the screen as quickly as possible, especially since there’s not really a manual way to speed up the ball’s roll speed.

Ball on a Wall

Now here’s the interesting thing: because the placement of the pickups is dynamic, no level ever plays the same. It’s actually pretty ingenious, because it adds even more replay value to the game, which has a lot of content to begin with thanks to the 90 or so levels it contains.

Visually, the game’s pretty simple, but the background colors and block designs change up often enough to keep things from getting too boring. It’s fine, but this is one of those games where substance definitely trumps style, and you won’t really care if the visuals don’t knock your socks off.

Ball On A Wall isn’t exactly the most exciting title out there, but it’s got challenge and cleverness to spare. As a physics puzzler/platformer, the game manages to deliver something that feels fresh and fun. If you’re looking for something that’s new and different, this is undoubtedly something you should check out.