Ingenuity in game design can go a long way. If something is fresh and new and unlike anything else you’ve seen before, that creativity can sometimes make up for a few warts a game may have. This is what you get with Gasketball, the newest offering from Mikengreg. It’s a little bizarre, a little out there, and can take some getting used to, but if you’re willing to take the time then you’re in for a real treat.
Gasketball is what would happen if Angry Birds and Amazing Alex had a little love child. It’s a basketball game, but it’s not really a basketball game. It’s a physics puzzler, but it’s much more than that. It’s ostensibly another asynchronous multiplayer game, but again, it’s a bit more than that. It’s in effect a crazy mash up of genres that makes for a heck of a unique experience.
Spend all this money on a basketball court, and no one shows up.
So what is this thing? Well, the multiplayer has you playing in games of H.O.R.S.E. against people on Game Center. You remember this from your parents driveway, don’t you? You take a shot, then your friend has to try and duplicate that shot, and so on and so forth. Gasketball ups the ante by allowing you to create the layout of the playing field with all kinds of crazy contraptions. Pinball flippers, construction poles, antigravity devices, teleporters, conveyor-belts, and buzz saws are all obstacles and things for your basketball to bounce off of before it goes in for the swish. You can even change the starting location of where you’ll fling the ball. When you’ve made all of the changes you want and have practiced it to make sure things work, then you go live and your opponent has to duplicate the shot you just made, in the correct way. There’s also a great one-on-one challenge for two players using the same iPad.
It’s crazy and, to be perfectly honest, difficult. The game’s physics are a little wonky and can take some getting used to. Trying to determine the proper angle and force with which to bounce the ball with can induce some hair pulling. And the functionality of some of the contraptions takes some trial and error to figure out just how exactly they work and how to use them correctly. This caused us some headaches, but if you’re willing to take the time (you can practice as much as you want to) you’ll have a ton of fun creating new ways to torture your opponent. There’s even a sarcastic little robot flying around to help you out. We should mention that you don’t get all of the crazy gadgets in the free version. Each single-player level pack you buy unlocks different doohickies for you to use in the multiplayer.
Grid and bear it.
If you’re willing to plunk down three bucks to purchase the full game (and we highly suggest you do) then you’ll be treated to a massive single-player campaign that greatly expands the game’s life. The full game offers 100 maddening yet colorful and inventive levels that have you shooting hoops in construction zones, discos and outer-space. If you don’t want to pay for the full thing, you can just buy the individual level packs for a buck each, and that gets you 25 levels each plus a limited selection of the aforementioned widgets to use in multiplayer. The stages reach bugnuts levels of insanity in their design as you progress, but it’s that level of craziness that kept us coming back to power through the whole thing.
Gasketball is great. It’s a little on the confusing side when you first start to play, and the single-player can get really, really challenging in the later levels. However, it has a playful sense of humor, the graphics are colorful and fun, and the game is a blast to play. This is one of those games that doesn’t come along all that often, and everyone should at least give the free version a download to see what’s up. The sheer level of imagination that went into Gasketball can easily make us forgive some annoyances with the gameplay.