Whether it is The Island of Misfit Toys or Toy Story 2, people tend to have a lot of sympathy for children’s abandoned playthings. Team Phobic’s Bounce On series has finally provided these discarded masses with a champion: a bouncing ball with mischief in his eyes. Last year’s Bounce On offered the initial concept of what this hero can do, but the sequel gives him a much grander quest to take on, and us an extremely enjoyable game to play.
Bounce On 2 plays something like a mix between Mario and Rolando. You move your ball around by tilting the iDevice, and touching the screen for different lengths of time determines your jump height. However, the varied and well-crafted level designs seen here go beyond the more puzzle-oriented stages in Rolando into larger multi-tiered platforming tracks. Plus, you only have one ball to worry about.
What’s a bouncy ball need a parachute for?
Continuing the Mario comparison, the way you progress is quite similar to Mario 64. Each world has about a dozen stages and each stage will usually have several variations you can play through in order to earn a key. Like Mario’s stars, keys are needed to unlock more levels, worlds, and boss fights. Also, there are always enough keys available that if you find yourself struggling on a particular stage, you do not necessarily have to beat it in order to bounce on.
The sheer amount of content in these levels is staggering. As stages get harder, obtaining even one key from a particular level can be a challenge. Multiply that by several keys per level, multiple levels per world, and a fair number of worlds, and you have enough content even for a dedicated gaming handheld like the Nintendo DS or PSP.
If the gameplay was repetitive, the length might be an issue, but Bounce On 2 never has you doing the same thing for long. Each level has various objectives. Some have you rolling along, jumping over obstacles and speeding down slopes Sonic-style in order to reach a key at the end. Others have you collecting a certain number of gems scattered throughout the environments, and some just have you killing a group of enemies by bopping them on the head.
Your enemies tend to be trash left on the ground, like rocks or gum-covered pennies. Oddly enough, their leader is a crumpled dollar bill named Drallo. Your ball can also utilize powerups like parachutes, shields, and ninja skills. The last one is particularly useful, as its double-jumping ability is perfect for countering tall, trashy teddy bear bosses.
Down with gravity!
While its 2D and 3D graphics do not push the iPhone to the limit, Bounce On 2 is not a bad looking game by any means, especially compared to the first one. Your ball, which can be any color you wish, looks a bit like a claymation character, and the environments he rolls through, such as ruins in a cloud and a funky version of outer space, are detailed and vibrant. World Two is especially impressive with its purple, dirty factory motif and gravity-based sections straight out of Mario Galaxy.
Presentation and feature-wise, Bounce On 2 is no slouch, either. The music is serviceable and game’s cute story is told through well-drawn panels featuring the ball and his partner, a keyring with eyes. As you make your way through the campaign, you can share your progress through the Plus+ powered ‘brag’ feature.
The only major issues some may have with Bounce On 2 are the occasional difficulty spikes. Sometimes the tilt controls are not quite fast enough to deal with some of the spike pits, floating platforms, and deviously placed enemies the game throws at you. However, since not every level has to be completed to move on, it never becomes too frustrating.
After investing lots of time with this game, we’re seriously impressed by what Team Phobic has created here. Bounce On 2 is a fun and clever platformer that will rope you in and not let go. All that for only a few bucks (or should we say ‘drallos’?) is a steal.