Prison Ball is a loosely jail themed breakout game with 3D style bricks.
Colourful blocks are arranged in a variety of shapes and patterns which can be destroyed by directing a ball towards them from a bat at the bottom of the screen.
The iPhone and Android versions of the game are very similar to that available freely on PC and contain 140 levels which you can either play through sequentially or opt to jump between randomly.
140 levels is a lot, I certainly haven’t completed them all before writing this review, but honestly don’t think I would have the sticking power to do so. Games can be resumed from a previous save but given the amount of time it can take to complete a level I think it would end up being rather tedious – though things do seem to speed up once you are further into the game. Each level has a time limit by which it must be completed to precede – on my first attempt at level one I was rather disappointed to get caught out by just a few seconds, I was hoping for an easier introduction!
The bat is moved by sliding your finger along the bottom of the screen, however the movement seemed a little problematic. Touching another section of the screen instantly jumps your bat to that position, even if it is the other side of the level (perhaps a benefit!), whilst slowly moving the bat often results in your finger creeping up the screen until it ends up blocking the view above your bat which makes it harder to check that it is correctly aligned to hit the ball in the desired direction. I think perhaps the bar containing the score and other information at the bottom of the screen was the reason I kept moving up the screen as I didn’t naturally associate this with the playing area of the game.
Power-up crates, released by certain bricks, let you choose between benefits such as extra lives, fire balls, rockets, multi-ball bonuses and between longer and shorter bats and faster or slower moving balls. Instead of knowing which benefit each crate offers before it is caught you must first catch a power up as it slowly falls down the screen. The crate will then scroll through a list of options and you can choose to activate a particular benefit from those that are available by touching the desired power-up as it appears on the right hand side of the screen. It is also worth noting that any upgrades are not cumulative so if you collect a fire ball you will lose your more powerful rockets (tap to fire).
The 3D aspect of the game enables the existence of taller bricks which require multiple hits to be destroyed. When a brick is destroyed it splits into several smaller animated segments which fade away.
Noticeable delays exist between the time your bat collides with the ball and the playing of the accompanying sound in the Android version of the game as the audio latency issue experienced in Simply Solitaire returns. Also on the Android version there seemed to be an issue with some levels missing the last letter from their name, for example the first level was titled “Prison Bal” and another “Red Cros” [An update for this should be released tomorrow].
It’s obvious a lot of work has gone into the game, particularly on the graphics side and whilst it was good to explore I don’t see myself coming back to play this very often. The whole thing just seems a little clunky and although there are a great number of levels I didn’t find myself getting hooked in to continue playing. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason for this, perhaps the genre just disagrees with me in 2011.