Everyone likes playing with balls right? I know your mum does, I’ve seen her. I do too. When the HTC Diamond launched years ago with a ball rolling puzzle pre-loaded, I got particularly addicted to it. Roll forward to 2017, and the latest ball-fiddler in my life is The Little Ball That Could, a mobile puzzle game from NaissusWorks.
The game is best described as Monkey Ball with the aesthetics of Portal. It’s got that industrial-but-cute look which you get in Valve’s epic, but the frantic gameplay of the classic simian roller. It’s a simple and clean look, but one which is very striking and quite professional looking for an indie mobile title, I was most impressed.
I’ve always maintained the acid test with any mobile title is how playable it is in short bursts whilst waiting for a bus of sat on the loo. With short levels to get through, The Little Ball That Could passes that test with flying colours. It’s split into small levels that allow you to play in chunks, each one tasking you with getting the sphere into the hole. Like all mobile titles, each level has three gems to collect, and specific challenges such as time trials giving an element of replayability.
The physics of the game are pretty well done: with the sensitivity set just right, it all feels very natural, and the ball will move largely how you would expect it. This makes it a pretty accessible game, as it’s easy to judge how your actions will translate into on-screen action. Make sure that you start with the phone in a good position though, otherwise you’ll end up contorting in all kinds of weird and wonderful positions to get your ball dipped where it ought to be. If this gets too awkward, or you don’t have the elbow room to be moving around like that, you can also use on-screen controls or a bluetooth controller.
I would recommend having a play with the visual controls if you’re playing on a lower end device. It’s quite a resource hog this one, but it ran smoothly on my Nexus 6P, which is a couple of years old now. Your mileage may vary on a different device.
There’s a kind of story to the game, told through cut scenes, but to be honest that’s a weak game aspect. It’s not why you play a puzzler though, so I’m just nit-picking here for the sake of it. If it really bothers you, then I’m sure you can make up something in your head instead. It’s what I do with puzzle games. You probably don’t want to know the depravity that happens within my Tetris fanfic.
Overall, I would recommend this if you’re a fan of games like Marble Madness or Crystal Castles. This is a game that can be enjoyable in short bursts, but the banging on the cubicle door right now suggests that those could become a little longer than expected if you’re not careful.
The Little Ball That Could (Reviewed on Android)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A good puzzle game that's enjoyable in short bursts like all the best mobile titles.