Update 12/24/09: Version 5.0
Bounce On has received two major updates since we reviewed it, both of which have added new worlds and greatly extended gameplay. World 4 is desert-themed, while World 5 takes Bounce to the "icy peaks." Here's a non-exhaustive list of features that have been added since the review:
- Plus+ integration (leaderboards, achievements, etc.)
- World 1's music and graphics have been reworked
- Boss battles!
- Lots of new levels, which introduce new mechanics such as disappearing platforms
- Bouncy goodness.
In short: Bounce On is even better than before, which is saying something. It's retained all of its personality and cleverness, and even months after its first release, Team Phobic continues to churn out new content. This is a game to savor! Now, to wait for Bounce On 2...
Version Reviewed: 3.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:4/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
Gameplay [rating: 5/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:5/5]
Bounce On is a cute platformer in the style of Mario, and I've been cheerfully playing through it for a few weeks now. It's your classic run-and-jump fare, but instead of donning Mario's red overalls, you'll be playing as Bounce, a sentient red bouncy ball, as he tries to return to his owner's pocket. The levels are spotted with various enemies, obstacles, and hazards for you to avoid, with many familiar features like floating block-ledges and carnivorous plants. Don't get me wrong, though; Bounce On is no clone. It's an original, top-notch 2-D platformer for the iPhone and iPod Touch, complete with cute graphics and fun level designs.
Controls are simple and brilliantly executed. You tilt to roll Bounce backwards or forwards, and tapping the screen makes Bounce jump. Longer taps (well, tapping-and-holding) make him jump higher. The tilt controls don't have a customizable option, but they work great. Because the tilt only works in one dimension (left and right), you can play Bounce On whilst lying in bed, sitting up, upside-down...take your pick, because the controls will work regardless.
Jumping is Bounce's main talent. Landing on enemies damages them, though each enemy has its own quirks. The cast of monsters includes simple caterpillars, spring-legged blue balls, "Followers" who trace your steps, and more. In addition to merely jumping over obstacles, Bounce can collect a variety of power-ups from his surroundings. In the first world, he can turn into a high-jumping Whiffleball or a fast-sinking (and temporarily impervious) boulder. Later, more power-ups are added, including a magnetic ball, which clings to charged surfaces, and a bubble-ball, which can float through the levels.
Levels are arranged in three worlds, with more promised in future updates, and each level can take anywhere from one minute to fifteen, depending on the level's difficulty and how often you die. In order to progress to the next world, you have to reach the door at the end. Thankfully, the path to each door forks several times, allowing alternate routes to the following world. (Shorter routes have harder levels; longer routes have easier levels.) The levels themselves, especially at the later ones, have some innovative designs that are truly fun to play through. There are checkpoints in each level, and if you die, you're not gone for good—you're just sent back to the menu with two complimentary lives.
The graphics in Bounce On are top-notch: cute, but far from gag-worthy, and Bounce has great personality. The game definitely has a unique style. While it's nice enough, I got bored with the first world's soundtrack after an hour or so; thankfully, the second and third worlds feature musical scores that I thought were far above par, and I usually keep the music on rather than use my own.
There's great replay value here, too. While you don't have to beat all of the levels to make it to the door, the game is fun enough that you'll go back to finish them all. Also, medals add an incentive to go back: bronze is for completion, silver is for completion with all gems, and gold is for completion, with all gems, under a predefined time limit. I can testify to the lasting value of Bounce On, at least in my case; it took me two weeks to play 'til the third door, and according to my save file, my game is only 48% complete.
My only complaint in the entire game is the world map system, which makes level selection a bit of a chore. While rolling around the map works well if you're just progressing to the next immediate level, I find that it takes too long to get from one end of a world to another. It's not much of a problem until you try replaying levels, but I'd like to see Bounce move faster.
I have spent plenty of hours tinkering with this little gem. There's just something innately fun about Bounce On—and mind you, I'm not a big fan of platformers; I didn't even like the much-hyped Rolando all that much. For whatever reason, Bounce On has me hooked, and I highly recommend it.