A little bit of Lumines influence, a touch of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo design and an audiovisual presentation thick with '80s nostalgia make Radballs stand out from the iPhone and iPad puzzle game crowd.
Glow Play's Radballs for iOS may rest somewhat uncomfortably on its totally rad presentation, invoking memories of '80s album art, Patrick Nagel paintings and Trapper Keeper "Designer Series" aesthetic choices. But there's a sold -- although somewhat light -- action puzzle game herein.
Puzzle Fighter and Puyo Puyo fans will feel familiar with Radballs' methods. Balls fall from the top of the screen in various colours and patterns, which must be clustered together in groups of four or more to form "megaradballs." A Lumines-style timeline sweeps down the screen, clearing those megaradballs and, hopefully, setting off a chain reaction of new megaradball formations, multipliers and higher points.
To win one of Radballs' many puzzle levels, each with its own throwback graphical skin, players must built up their radness meter, which is consistently draining.
The makers of Radballs attempt to mix up this megaradball exploding puzzling with a few power ups and gimmicks. Players can "scratch" the timeline like a record, with the appropriate amount of wicky-wicky effect, as the timeline crosses over a megadradball. This freestyle scratching offers a point boost, but feels more like a distraction than a well-integrated mechanic.
Radballs drops a few rare power-ups onto the playfield, with screen-clearing bombs and one that "chills out" the action (complete with a layer of frost that coats the touchscreen).
There are a ton of nice little touches in Radballs, like the "chill out" screen frost that can be wiped away with a fingertip and the option to import (non-DRM controlled) tracks from your iPod library. Regrettably, there is no two-player competitive mode, the type that makes games like Puzzle Fighter so appealing. But Radballs is still a blast without that multiplayer option and excels in the A/V department.
Radballs is available via iTunes for $2.99 as a universal app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.