Water Ball for Android is a difficult game to judge. One the one hand, it is based around a pretty clever and original idea, and executes this idea pretty well, but on the other, there just isnt enough ‘game’ here.
A simple game, Water Ball sees you attempting to get a beach ball up a vertically scrolling maze. The maze is endless, and filled with a wide variety of traps and obstacles, but the trickiest part of the game has to be the mode of transport; a water hose. Yes, you must shoot water from the hose to not only keep the beach ball balanced, but to also navigate your way around all the obstacles and traps.
It isn’t easy, as one touch of pretty much anything will burst the ball and end the game for you. You tilt your Android phone to control where the hose is pointing, and must touch the screen to shoot water, and this works surprisingly well, as you do feel that you have a decent level of control over proceedings. The biggest hurdle when learning the ropes is getting used to the momentum of the ball, both when it is being squirted, and when it is falling, and learning how to catch the ball properly, without it shooting off into an obstacle, is a key task.
There are a few upgrades lying around that can help you out a bit, such as the ability to turn the ball iron, so that you can touch any obstacle unscathed, or to make it so that it can float right though the stage unhindered.
The physics are spot on, as are the fantastic water effects, which are genuinely impressive. The animation on the ball is good, although the backgrounds are a bit lacklustre and forgettable. It all runs smoothly without any hint of slowdown, which is very important for such a precise, controlled game.
Shooting through the endless level is challenging and fun, and will no doubt keep you entertained for a while, but the problem is that this is the only mode in the game. There are local highscores to aim for, but nothing else. I would have liked to have seen a puzzle mode with set and completable stages, or a challenge mode where you are given a set task to complete, but as it is, there really isn’t a lot here. Something as simple as having a countdown on certain distances in the main endless stage would add a lot, so you could have 60 seconds to do the first 100 feet, then 40 seconds to do the next 100 and so on.
Even the addition of OpenFient leaderboards would be a help, but the lack of content is a critical issue, and is the main reason for the fairly low score you see below. If the game had a few more options and modes then I would love to score it higher, but the bare-bones approach really does hurt here, I’m afraid.
Water Ball is a decent physics puzzler, with good controls, promising designs and a clever idea that has been well implemented. The basic game is pretty addictive, but a painful lack of modes holds this one back. A fully featured sequel that is more fleshed out would be most welcome.