In the history of videogames, it’s a tale as old as time: the bad guy kidnaps the hero’s girlfriend, and you play as the hero on an epic quest to get her back. That’s exactly what happens in Red Ball 3, a side-scrolling platformer that bubbles with a lot more creativity than its sleep-inducing title might suggest.
Like in most platformers, in Red Ball 3 you can move left, right, and jump. Depending on what machinery you find in a level, though, you might also fly a helicopter, move steel cubes using a giant magnet, or open secret passageways around a giant sphinx.
Red ball is amped for revenge.
The levels are packed with a wild mishmash of ideas, and it’s always a pleasure to see what the game has in store for you next. In one level you’ll spelunk through a complex cavern, while in the next you might have to hop from one giant slide to another while a red-hot boulder chases after you. There’s even a level modeled after a classic iPhone game. Unfortunately, you only get 20 levels, so it’s over before you know it. We easily completed the game in a single sitting.
Or maybe ‘easily’ isn’t the right word, because Red Ball 3 packs a challenge. Expect either to die or to mess up in such a way that it becomes impossible to complete a level often. Thankfully, checkpoints are generously spaced throughout the levels, and a helpful ‘reload from the last checkpoint’ button lets you know when you’ve broken the level mechanics beyond repair.
Shoulda paid attention during flight school…
And although the game is disappointingly short, each level contains three collectible stars, some of which are hidden in secret areas, and some of which seem impossible to reach without burning through your thinking cap. So there’s a decent amount to do in the game after you’ve beaten it, as long as you don’t mind playing through levels more than once.
Our last, smaller complaint is that the jumping controls are a little unreliable when you’re standing on an incline (something that happens fairly often in the game). For some reason, when you’re on slanted ground your jumping height is cut in half. This is particularly annoying in the cave level.
Red Ball 3 has a solid platforming foundation and lots of cool level ideas, but it needs additional content and a little more polish before we can call it a Must Have. Still, it’s a well-made game, and it’s impressive that they’ve managed to pack in such variety, while still making it feel like a cohesive whole.