App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
BS: Ricochet is a sort of companion piece to Tyler Projects' other game, Battle Stations!. It's not an uncommon practice to create small spin-offs in an attempt to either grab a bit more cash or drive more users to the main product, but this is one of those unfortunate cases where the side project just isn't up to snuff.
Games like this are all over the App Store: Set angle and trajectory, launch an object (in this case a cannon ball) at targets, try to hit everything or make it to a goal of some sort. In this case, there's also a lot of bouncing around (i.e. ricocheting) from object-to-object. It utilizes a vague steampunk pirate motif, but aside from that there's really nothing to make BS: Ricochet stand out in the crowded market. I suppose it does offer a good deal of levels (40), but it still feels very "been there, done that."
To be fair, BS: Ricochet tries to keep things fresh by adding power-ups that will make the ball jump on command, set it on fire so it can blast through certain enemies and so on. It also mixes things up with different level objectives which can involve getting the ball past a certain point, destroying every target or even sinking an enemy vessel. In the end it all boils down to "shoot this at that thing," but the different tasks to sometimes call for different strategies. It certainly keeps the levels from blending together as they can sometimes do in other games of this type.
So it's a decent physics puzzle game, right? Well unfortunately, "decent" is about as good as it gets. The biggest problem is the overabundance of levels utilizing moving targets that are off-screen most of the time, reducing any chances of success to exactly that: chance. The camera can be pulled back and panned around the stage, but the cannon can only be fired from the default view which makes timing everything virtually impossible. Likewise, the power-ups that are supposed to be helpful can also be more of a hindrance thanks to their implementation. Tapping the desired icon (when available) at the bottom of the screen does indeed trigger the item as expected, but it doesn't do so until the button is released. It sounds like a stupid thing to complain about but it can really throw off the timing when using different abilities. Especially the extra jump.
It would be nice to claim that those are the only problems here but BS: Ricochet has also slipped-up where it matters most: the physics. In a game based entirely around this concept, it's amazing to find that the core mechanics feel so rough. Yes, cannon balls are heavy. However, I would still expect that firing one at maximum strength would see it fly much farther than it actually does here. The same goes for the angles and how the ball starts dropping much sooner than it should. All of this makes simply completing most stages a very frustrating game of trial-and-error, never mind attempting to earn the highest rank. I think fiddling with the sensitivity of the shot strength and angles would go a long way toward making the game a lot more entertaining.
I wish I could say that my time spent with BS: Ricochet was enjoyable from beginning to end, but that would be lying. It looks like a fun time and the Facebook game it's derived from is actually pretty good, but the physics feel way too off and most of the levels rely too heavily on pure luck. Earlier levels with stationary targets show potential, but I don't think this title will have a shot (no pun intended) at those other, more popular games, until after an update or two.