Collider in review – Rolling balls for physics fun

I’ve never been a real big fan of physics based games, especially when they involve setting up all kinds of contraptions and gizmos to do things. On the other hand, ones that involve manipulating several balls of different types to get them to certain places tend to intrigue me on occasion. One such puzzle game, and one of my favorite puzzle games on the Pocket PC, was Obulis. I think I’ve found another such game in Collider for the iPhone. The concept is simple, but some of the puzzles can be fiendishly challenging. At the same time you’re not weighed down with 50 different options on each level. That’s my kind of puzzle game.

The object of the game is simple. Each level has a certain number of balls with a plus sign and a certain number with a minus sign. The idea is to get them to make contact, such that the positive and negative balls cancel each other out. But a given level may not have the same number of positive and negative balls, as you’ll observe. That’s okay, because if two different size balls collide, the smaller one will go away and the bigger one will get smaller. Have no fear – everything balances out in the end.

To start things rolling, each level has a certain number of balls placed on it. At the bottom of the screen is a row containing the rest of the balls needed to complete the equation. You can drag the balls from the lower part of the screen to where you’d like them to start on the upper part of the screen, taking into account the dead zone, which is the area in which you can’t place the target balls. In addition to the plus and minus balls there are neutral green balls. These are just used to get other balls moving and don’t actually help resolve anything. Once all the movable balls have been put on the playing field you’ll get the control panel, which allows you to start, rewind or fast forward the process. The rewind is for when you’re stuck and need to restart the level, and fast forward helps you get through an oft repeated level more quickly.

Of course, this won’t be a stroll down peaceful boulevard. In addition to the aforementioned pipes there are different kinds of platforms to get in your way. Some tilt, some cause you to bounce and some even spin to keep you away. Sometimes a bunch of balls will be connected by a thread and you have to break the chain in just the right spot to cause the proper reaction. There are gates that must be triggered by sensors, and even areas that need to get blown up in order for you to finish a level. And, if you don’t find the normal play through of levels challenging enough, you can play a speed round, where you get a certain number of minutes to complete as many levels as you can. It would be nice if this time limit was adjustable by the user, but they picked some pretty decent increments. The game is also OpenFeint enabled, and there are 39 achievements to earn, which means there’s plenty to keep you busy for a while.

The graphics are nothing special, but they look nice. The objects appear to be simple textured, 3D rendered objects. The background is usually some sort of skyscape, and is somewhat reminiscent of drawings you might get from one of those “generate a cloud picture” type programs. The sound effects are pretty decent as well, though nothing earth shattering. I do like the noise the game makes when you do a rewind – it’s just like a video sounds when you play it backwards. The music works well for the game and suits the atmosphere just fine.

Collider is a nice little physics based game. I can’t necessarily say it’s the best on the iPhone, because I honestly haven’t tried that many in the genre on this platform. I will say, however, that it is a nice substitute for the sadly missing Obulis. The nice thing about Collider is that it’s generally accessible to players who don’t normally go for this kind of game. They might not feel that way in some of the more challenging levels, but it’s true! I think it could have been interesting to have the ability to “tweak” the action a bit by tilting the device once things had been set in motion on a particular level, but otherwise everything felt spot on. Overall Collier is very well done.

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App Summary
Title: ColliderDeveloper: Dan Russell-Pinson
Reviewed Ver:1.5Min OS Req:2.2.1
Price:$0.99App Size:10.6 MB
  • Simple, challenging game play
  • Decent visuals, good music
  • Plenty of levels and achievements
  • Some levels get really frustrating, even early on
  • No ability to “nudge” things via tilt

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