From Marble Madness to Super Monkey Ball; carefully rolling spheres through tricky stages has been enjoyable for decades. So, how does The Little Ball That Could stack up against these timeless classics?
The Little Ball That Could opens with an interactive sequence where you're in some sort of factory that manufactures balls. Every ball in sight has a heart except the one that you control. So, you find an escape chute and go on an adventure presumably to find a heart so you can be like your fellow ball chums. I could have that completely wrong but that's what seemed to happen. Anyway, the adventure that follows is composed of intricate stages that you must roll through to claim a heart at the end of each one. However, if you fall too far or get snagged by certain hazards then you'll have to start at the previous checkpoint. There are no lives so it's a fairly laidback game. However, trying to find all the collectibles and completing stages in under their par times is undeniably challenging so don't assume that the entire experience will be easy.
On a visual level, The Little Ball That Could looks stunning with its sterile yet colourful and intricate stages. Everything runs super-smoothly and the graphics are always crystal clear. That being said, I wish there was more environmental variety. It makes me miss games like Kororinpa which features loads of diverse environments. Anyway, the music is full of gentle piano melodies that add an atmosphere of mystery and calmness to the gameplay. It's definitely great looking and sounding stuff.
A couple of aspects that The Little Ball That Could masters beautifully are provide brilliant stage layouts and offer loads of replay value. Each stage is intricate and full of different hazards and features that slowly get introduced throughout. Whether you're avoiding being pushed off or waiting on a moving platform to be transported across a gap; it's cool to see what clever contraptions the developers thought of next. The replay value is substantial because you can earn three stars on each stage; one for finding the puzzle piece, one for gathering all three gems, and one for completing it in under the par time. Each world is unlocked upon reaching thresholds of 40 star increments and there are 24 stages in each of the 5 worlds. Finally, there are leaderboards for how long it took you to beat each stage and right now, I'm at the top of most of them so you should totally buy this game just so you can dethrone me.
The most significant downside of The Little Ball That Could is that there isn't more of it to enjoy. Sure, there are loads of stages and tons of replay value but I wish there were modes such as some sort of multiplayer mode or arcade-style challenges such as "beat these 5 stages with only 3 lives in less than 10 minutes". Those modes would have added a ton of variety. There are skins for your ball to unlock and three cool powers that you get after finishing the campaign but those aren't nearly enough extras.
I'm surprised that more people aren't playing The Little Ball That Could as it's such a satisfying and brilliant take on the Marble Madness formula. If it sounds even remotely appealing then do yourself a favour and give it a download.
- + Solid Marble Madness gameplay that manages to be both relaxing and challenging
- + Brilliant stage layouts and music
- + Loads of replay value
- - Could use additional modes such as multiplayer or arcade-like challenges
- - Visuals lack environmental variety