New Sydney-based developer Doppler Interactive recently released their first Android game Ball of Woe to the Google Play store. The game is the brainchild of Joshua – the developer, and Jessica – the graphic designer.
The storyline behind Ball of Woe is that the citizens of ‘Nicetown’ have balled up all their sadness into a ‘Ball of Woe’ that you – as God – must guide through a physics-based puzzle maze on a suspended track using Puffs of air. You have to keep the ball on the track and avoid obstacles like holes in the track in order to liberate them from their woe and bring happiness back to the land.
It’s free to download, but features a number of in-app purchases, placing it squarely in the ‘Freemium’ category.. The game uses an ingame currency called Woe, which you trade for various powerups. The in-app purchases available to add Woe and other powerups, or remove ads.
To start the game you choose your Ball of Woe. There are different balls to choose from, with each ball rated with different difficulty levels. All but the default Ball of Woe costing you your hard earned or purchased Woe. The default ball is the free Ball of Woe which has a Low difficulty rating, but if you’re after another Low-rated ball you can purchase the Lava Ball. The next step up is Medium-rated balls which offer the Ball of Bones, Ball of Joy, Misunderstood Ball and H-Ball. Moving up to High, you can purchase the Lunar Ball. Beyond the Low, Medium and High difficulty ratings, the higher levels are somewhat ambiguous, using terms like Insane Quite Tricky, Lucrative or Slippery.
Once you’ve selected a ball, you need to choose how you’ll propel it on the track – the means of propellant known as Puff. Your default free Puff is the Granite Rod, and you can purchase other Puffs like the Lightning Bolt, Glimpse of the Future or Mysterious Remnant. Puffs also have difficulty ratings from Low through Medium to High and Insane.
One of the game’s main Freemium features is designed around the accrual of ‘Woe’ – the ingame currency that can be used to upgrade things such as Balls or Puff. Woe is acquired by completing levels or in-app purchases from Google Play. The bundles of Woe come in a variety of different packages to meet different price ranges from 1,000 Woe for $1.10 up to 1,000,000 for $110.00.
As you progress through the game, you’ll also find that you need to use Reverse Puffs – these are puffs that will blow your ball back onto the track if you happen to veer off. Reverse Puffs can also be purchased as in-app purchases. Annoyingly you don’t appear to be able to exchange your accrued Woe for Reverse Puffs, so if you use them – and believe me you’ll definitely want to – you’ll have to pay for them at some stage.
There’s also the option to remove ads from the game for an in-app purchase of $2.20. While I didn’t find the ads obstructive, there are some out there that cannot abide them – this option is for you.
In-app purchase prices
- 1,000 Woe : $1.10
- 3,000 Woe : $2.20
- 10,000 Woe : $4.40
- 40,000 Woe : $11.00
- 100,000 Woe : $22.00
- 400,000 Woe : $55.00
- 1,000,000 Woe : $110.00
- Reverse Puffs
- 150 Reverse Puffs : $1.10
- 500 Reverse Puffs : $2.20
- 10,000 Reverse Puffs : $5.50
- 1,000,000 Reverse-Puffs : $11.00
- Remove Ads : $2.20
I’m not terribly fond of Freemium games, as I like to have the ability to just complete a game without having to worry about purchasing extras to get through it, but the model has proven itself an effective revenue strategy for developers, and is obviously here to stay.
Actual game play on Ball of Woe was a bit difficult to begin with, but after a couple of runs through you’ll get the hang of it fairly quickly. The game is both easy to play, yet hard to navigate – the interesting obstacles are annoyingly difficult to move around and will have you trying again and again to better your progress through levels.
Throughout the levels you’ll run into bonuses like chests full of Woe, or zealots whom you can hit with your ball to get some bonus Woe which will also encourage you to keep trying.
There are some annoyances. At the start of the level, you have to tap through a range of story balloons before you can begin. This is okay the first time you play through the game, giving you an idea of the story, but when you’re just trying to restart a level it becomes quite frustrating. A simple “restart level” option when you fall off the track would definitely be appreciated.
I like the game. For a first attempt, Ball of Woe is pretty good. While the gameplay is quite addictive, there’s definitely room for the graphics to improve. The game is free to try on Google Play, and I really recommend you at least try it out as a serious time waster it has the addictiveness that some games severely lack.