Monday, August 04, 2008

Make Bouncy Bouncy Review

Make Bouncy Bouncy, developed and published by ByDesign Games.
The Good: Straightforward controls and mechanics, no penalty for failure, challenging difficulty requires skill, appropriate for all ages, online score list, Windows and Mac supported
The Not So Good: No level editor, lacks power-ups and bonuses to vary the gameplay, can get frustrating and you cannot skip levels, typically only one way to beat each puzzle
What say you? A very simple platform game that’s also quite entertaining: 6/8

The draw of the Ninja Warrior-inspired summer show Wipeout is watching people fall and fall hard. If only we could get the same rush in computerized form, so that potentially serious injury would be avoided. Lucky for us, the platform game has offered high-flying jumps and lots of precarious situations over the years. The latest entrant in the genre comes in the form of Make Bouncy Bouncy, which is either a platform game involving a bouncing cube or hardcore pornography. Either way, it’s going to be a fun afternoon!

Make Bouncy Bouncy has some minimalist graphics, but they are actually pretty effective. The puzzles are brightly-colored and set against a static background; the game has a cell-shaded look, with bold lines for each object that makes the overall experience seem more animated. There are some effects present when you make a lot of bounces in a row and I enjoy the little phrases that emanate from your cube (aieeeeee!). Make Bouncy Bouncy is also full of some fanciful sound effects that fit the theme well: deflating, good audio cues, and humorous sounds of failure. The game also comes with a fine selection of classical music that is far less annoying (and far more relaxing) than what’s featured in a lot of games. So while Make Bouncy Bouncy doesn’t shock and awe, but it certainly gets the job done with the presentation.

Make Bouncy Bouncy is a platform game where all you do is jump. It’s better than it sounds. The game comes with almost 35 levels spread across four difficulty groupings (more are planned to be patched in later). This is an OK amount of content; the relative simplicity of the puzzle design makes the exclusion of an editor very curious, and being able to design your own creations would do a long way to increasing the replay value. You also cannot skip difficult levels in each set, which can get frustrating when you encounter a particularly hard puzzle. While Make Bouncy Bouncy does not feature any multiplayer (imagine how cool head-to-head or capture the flag would be), there is an online high score list and the title does support our hippie Macintosh friends.

Make Bouncy Bouncy features an extremely straightforward control scheme that utilizes the mouse: moving the mouse rotates your character, the left button moves forward, and the right button turns around. The camera panning speed is not quite fast enough for me (even on the maximum sensitivity setting) since I am used to quickly whipping around in first person shooters, but it’s not slow enough where it makes any of the puzzles impossible. The game uses a combination of timing and aiming as you ascend from platform to platform on your way to the exit. You will need to “make bouncy bouncy” at least once, jumping on different platforms in succession, in order to unlock the exit. There are a variety of different pad types throughout the game: moving, larger bounce, stick, and ones that create a useful respawn point. The combination of these different pads and their locations can make for some difficult puzzles that require a lot of precision. Make Bouncy Bouncy does not have any power-ups or other bonuses (like slowed time or a larger cube to make landing easier), so you are at the mercy of the level designer. Typically, there is only one way out (although the path may be mirrored), so there is not much room for creativity in Make Bouncy Bouncy and this reduces replay value. There is no penalty for falling off other than starting over on the floor. The game is certainly family friendly, with non-violent gameplay that’s good for the kids. It’s too bad, then, that there aren’t a lot of really easy puzzles (apart from the tutorial) for the younger crowd to enjoy. Still, Make Bouncy Bouncy’s creative gameplay and quality puzzles keep the game interesting.

Make Bouncy Bouncy’s simple gameplay is addictive. The game is challenging to be sure, but the levels never become unfair, tedious, or boring. The controls are easy to learn, although I would like to turn up the mouse sensitivity even more (although that might imbalance the difficulty). The designs are pleasing and the incorporation of different tile types adds some variety to the mix. The vibrant colors are appealing, and along with the sound design, a whimsical world has been created. Like most games, there is always room for improvement: more puzzles for the kids, varied solutions, and an editor would be welcome features. But if you enjoy precision-driven platform games, then Make Bouncy Bouncy should be on your list.