Prison Ball

A review I wrote of the iOS game Prison Ball for the website

Some game genres defy all attempts to add a story to the game. One example being the breakout style game, were you use a paddle to hit a ball to destroy some bricks. Prison Ball doesn’t attempt a story but neither does the name make much sense.

The game takes place in what appears to be a padded prison cell with bars. This is paired with brightly coloured blocks that float in the air arranged into various shapes like fish or aliens or even the words Prison Ball.

It could be a deep treatise on how prisoners deal with the solitude of prison life, with the constantly moving ball representing time slipping through their fingers, the blocks disappearing like the months as they contemplate on their crimes that have left them divorced from normal society [Steady — Ed].

Or it could just be a game where you hit bricks with a ball until they all vanish and a prison background is as good as anything else.

Prison Ball is a pretty decent take on the breakout genre. You slide your finger along the screen to move the paddle which is pretty responsive. The game nicely puts the scores at the bottom of the screen which has the benefit of giving you an area where you can rest your finger without blocking your view of the ball. This is one of the main problems with touchscreen games and Prison Ball sidesteps this nicely.

Some blocks that you hit reveal power ups that give you a longer paddle or an extra life or more balls. It’s all very familiar but with 140 levels it’ll be something that will last you for some time. However, this is all thanks to the timer which gives you a set time to clear each set of blocks, if the time runs out you have to start again from scratch. This can get pretty frustrating as even on the first level the time limit is pretty tight. It can be immensely annoying when you have one block left to clear but you can’t quite get the ball to hit it. Whilst you do have a small degree of control over the direction the ball travels, it’s not precise and ends up falling on the bad side of annoying more often than not.

The game looks decent but nothing special. The blocks are rendered in 3D but are pretty basic. The whole look of the game is like this to be honest. It looks alright on the iPhone but is a bit disappointing when you see what other small developers are capable of getting out of the platform.

In the end, it’s an okay game. It looks okay, plays okay and doesn’t do too much to annoy you. There are plenty of other variants of this game available on the app store and Prison Ball doesn’t do anything to stand out from the crowd other than a slightly strange name.

Three stars out of five

Reviewed on iPhone

Originally published on 7th March 2011


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