App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Over the years, the App Store has seen some ingenious design go into the humble one-touch platformer. I'd even go as far to say that some of these past titles are some of the best platforming you can find just about anywhere. Due to this stiff competition, games like Bumballon have a hard time standing out. Despite a decently charming aesthetic and intriguing concept, this game has just enough working against it to make it hard to recommend over alternatives.
In Bumballon, you play as a duck-like creature who launches out of cannons to blast through environments has super speeds. Your only way to control this creature is by tapping to make it inflate and float slowly along like a balloon. You only have a limited time to be inflated, though, with the idea being that most of the time you'll be shooting through levels in mere seconds.
As you fly through the air, any number of things might come in to view to knock you out of the sky. Deadly creatures, walls, and other hazards you have to play around and try to time your flying just right so that you don't careen into them and die, which would force you to start the level over from the beginning.
It doesn't take long for Bumballon to become a pretty serious test of your reflexes. Once you get to the end of the first world (of seven total), you'd have to be pretty lucky to make it through a level without dying at least once. The speed at which the game moves and the way you only have such limited control of your character means you can expect to die quite a bit before clearing levels moving forward.
I don't usually have an issue with platformers that are punishing like this, but Bumballon's flavor of it has a couple sour notes. The first is that there are many times where you can identify your doom well before you even reach it, as sometimes a mistimed launch can't even be saved by the one control option you have. The second--and perhaps most important--reason I don't have much patience for dying and retrying in Bumballon is that restarting levels takes a bit too long. By my estimate, viewing the death screen (which also keeps a tally of your increasingly embarrassing death count and tapping to try again takes a few seconds, when it should really be an instant restart.
Outside of the core design decisions of Bumballon's gameplay, there are a couple of other things that rub me the wrong way. The first is that the game is a little buggy, particularly when it comes to its sound. During almost every play session, the game sound completely stops, which can be quite distracting, especially if in the midst of a challenging sequence.
Also, the game's free-to-play model--while generally pretty standard in most circumstances--makes the punsihment of death even more excrutiating. Having an advertisement add further delay to the retrying process ruins what is already a pretty sluggish sense of momentum, which is key to making a challenging one-touch platformer feel replayable and less frutstrating than it would otherwise be.
The bottom line
There are just a few too many things that make Bumballon bothersome to play. In light of no quality alternatives, that may well make it worth picking up, but that is definitely not the case. There are myriad other high-quality platformers you could be playing that deliver what Bumballon in a slicker and better designed package.