Ball Slam Fantasy – get slammed in a good way

Posted: May 23, 2009 in Arcade

The title “Ball Slam Fantasy” can evoke a number of reactions both pleasant and not so pleasant. I’ve spent some time playing Ball Slam Fantasy, and it has to be one of the more entertaining and inventive experiences out there (I know that sounds weird, but someone had to write it). While many will dismiss this as yet another brick breaker clone, I think you would be missing out on one of the hidden gems on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform.

Graphically and musically, Ball Slam Fantasy is about the details. The lighthearted game has so much going on and variety in each of the levels that it’s easy to be distracted. The premise is a little kooky—a spell has been cast on five kingdoms in a distant world, and the ball and paddle are the keys to setting them free—but the game is not.

The visuals are among the best for brick breaker-type games with backgrounds that change with each level, strange looking obstacles, and boatload of different characters thrown in for good measure. A broad spectrum of characters are weaved in the game including abominable snowmen, gargoyles, man-eating flowers, and angry tikis among others. Even some of the blocks come with faces that get angry as they get pounded by balls.

Ball Slam Fantasy is all about the Adventure mode with 75 different levels that travel through five different worlds—Forbidden Forest, Ice Jewel, Nowhereopolis, Seven Seas, and Dark Cosmos, each with their own funky soundtrack. The game does offer two other modes: Quick Play which allows you to play levels unlocked in Adventure mode; and Countdown which is more of a survival mode where by destroying bricks, additional time is added to a timer to prolong the game. I’ll tell you now that most of your time will be spent in Adventure mode.

Another great feature is the paddles themselves, which can be controlled either by accelerometer or touch. Who knew?

There are 5 different paddles with their own characteristics and features. By default, the standard unlocked paddle doesn’t just have ball bouncing abilities but has powerful weapons: bombs and cannons. 4 other paddles come with features such as Raging Ball, Depth Charge, Glue Ball, and Machine Gun to name a few and are unlocked individually for every 100k points scored. These features are accessed during the game along with other power ups. But not all power ups are created the same nor help. In Ball Slam Fantasy, green is better than red. Green power ups include shields, multiple balls, and enlarge paddle, while red ones will shrink your paddle or automatically take a life.

The game isn’t just about breaking bricks either. Some need to broken by hitting them a certain way either on top or bottom but until then, remain obstacles. During the game, you can also capture falling stars and for every five stars, a mini-game, Star Catcher, opens up after completing the Adventure mode level. Since the stars carry over from level to level, there’s no need to worry about keeping track of how many stars you have because a yodel blares out once the goal of five stars has been achieved. The objective in Star Catcher is to catch stars for bonus points, and earn an extra life for every 5k points.

The gameplay itself is similar to other brick breaker games with a post-level statistics page showing score by level, overall score and stars picked up. Ball Slam Fantasy does a good job in how the levels are played and reducing monotony. For every 5 levels completed in one world, you rotate to a different world, and so on. I find this helps add variety to the gameplay so you’re not stuck in the same world for an extended period of time. Another feature that is present in many of the levels is the use of wormholes that will move the ball from one location to another and back. On occasion, the ball can be caught in a wormhole loop and waste valuable seconds which can be annoying, but in general, they provide some flavor to the game.

Overall, Ball Slam Fantasy is an amazingly polished game with a different take on the category. While other brick breaker-type games are available, this is simply one of the more fun and entertaining games, which at the end of the day is all that really matters.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for those who need an extra dose of excitement for your brick breaker urges or enjoy saying Ball Slam Fantasy in public)

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