Starball from Quantum Squid Games

Review: Starball – Edward Abarilla

Developer: Quantum Squid Games

Score: (4/5)

What I truly adore about iPhone gaming is that most games tend to be simple and easy to pick-up, requiring no special skill to play.

Quantum Squid Games

This is where iPhone gaming really shines, especially thanks to the device’s unique technical features. Quantum Squid Games Interactive’s recent release, Starball is a great example, featuring gameplay that is very easy to pick up, but very difficult to put back down.

Although Starball does not use a multitouch on its gameplay, it uses tilt mechanics. Now, before it turns any of you off, I can say confidently that it works well.

The rules in Starball are very simple, you have a green ball that you move by tilting your iPhone – think of Labyrinth game and you’ll have an idea. You collect stars that appear on the screen and you score points based on how many stars you collect in a single game. It sounds easy but it’s actually quite challenging because “Red Ball of Death” hazards will appear as you collect stars, rolling either horizontally or vertically across the screen. After collecting 10 or more stars the action can really begin to get hectic. One-touch on these hazards will instantly end your game.

Fortunately, there are a handful of power-ups that appear randomly, helping you through-out the game: Shrinkage makes your green ball shrink so it’s easier to avoid the hazards. Slow-Mo makes the hazards roll slowly, which really helps in navigating your way through tight spots. There is also a power-up that freezes the hazards into a place called Time-Freeze, take advantage of it and get as many stars as you can before the hazards begin to move again.

Yet another power-up is the Invincible which is my favorite because you become the ‘hazard’ for the red balls. Touch a hazard ball, and they instantly vanish into thin air. This works especially well if dozens of them are all onscreen at once. Just drumming through them with no worries is such a feast, what sweet revenge! The last power-up which is also the most powerful is Ball Buster, where all the hazards on-screen will vanish. After picking Ball Buster up just watch them all vanish with a big grin.

There are three difficulty settings to play with, Easy difficulty generates fewer hazards; for every two stars you get, one red ball will appear. If you choose Normal, one red hazard will appear for each star you collect. Now that gets a little more challenging but it’s nothing compared to Hard difficulty where two hazards will appear for every star you collect. The hard difficulty will start off your game really quick.

The concept in Starball is really very simple but that is what makes the game so addicting. It is definitely another one of those iPhone titles you wanna try again and again..and again.. and again. “I should have moved the ball upwards! Grr!” I’ll say that to myself then instantly hit the retry button. After 15 minutes, I have repeated that process probably a hundred times.

Good-looking visuals also make this game more appealing and charming. Although the visuals are nothing out of the ordinary, the clean and smooth graphics are really easy on the eyes.

Online leaderboards via OpenFeint adds to the lasting appeal of the game as well as the addiction factor. It’s just a downer that they didn’t release the game with achievements built-in. This is a feature promised in an upcoming update, and the developers have been good with updates so far, releasing a promised update recently with a new theme, new music, and touch anywhere pause feature.

Overall, Starball is a great pick-up and play the game, well-suited for short bursts. Although it’s a short-lived experience, once your addicted you’d be surprised at how good it is. I totally ignored this game when I first saw it, just based my impressions on the screenshots. But trust me, this is a good purchase and you won’t regret it. The addicting pickup and play action in Starball is sure to win you over almost instantly.

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