The Ball Game logo

Electronic Zoo £25.99

The aim of The Ball Game is to dominate a Chequers-style board with counters of your colour. It's played in turns, with each of the four players laying one of their coloured counters at a time. Much like Othello, under special circumstances whole blocks of the opposition's counters can be changed, taking points from them and rewarding you.

Straightforward graphics and simple rules mean this is a game that is won with the mind, not joystick speed. Victory is tough, even against human opposition, but it lacks the classic edge of Othello and the thrill factor of more traditional computer fare.

An interesting diversion, The Ball Game offers nothing really new, just a dependable board-game challenge.

The Ball Game logo

Krankte bereits Electronic Zoos Weltenretter-Epos "Eco Phantoms" an bösen Mängeln in der Ausführung, so hat sich jetzt auch noch ihr neuer Hirntrainer mit diesem Leiden infiziert - eine Epidemie?

Bis zu vier Gerhirnakrobaten dürfen gegeneinander antreten, und zwar auf einem Brett mit 64 unterschiedlich markierten, weil verschiedenwertigen Quadraten.

Jeder steuert nun reihum seine farblich gekennzeichnete Spielfigur: Wer auf ein freies Nachbarfeld zieht, erschafft damit auf dem Ausgangspunkt ein Kügelchen in seiner Farbe und heimst dafür soviele Punkte ein, wie das entsprechende Quadrat eben wert ist.

Die andere Zugmöglichkeit wäre ein Sprung über zwei Felder, wodurch sich in der Nachbarschaft des Ziels alle gegnerischen Bälle in eigene verwandeln.

Da man sich also immer nur in einem Radius von maximal zwei Feldern bewegen kann, die noch dazu unbesetzt sein müssen, ist "Zugnot" nicht ausgeschlossen.

Dann hilft nur noch eine Blind-Teleportation (Ziel unbekannt), was aber gerade zwanzigmal erlaubt ist - sobald das Kontingent ausgeschöpft wurde, ist Sense! Somit ist Vorsicht angesagt, denn immerhin wollen 100 Level mit diesem Vorrat überstanden sein.

Grafisch ist die "Ballerei" dank ein paar kleiner Animationen gerade noch erträglich; Musik und FX hören sich ziemlich quäkig an. Die umständliche, weil indirekte Steuerung funktioniert noch am besten mit dem Mäuschen, aber sobald mehr als zwei Teilnehmer am Werk sind, ist ohnehin alles egal - dann können nämlich die Farben kaum noch unterscheiden werden. Schade um die ordentliche Idee! (jn)

The Ball Game logo

Now this is odd. The Ball Game is a strange computerised board game with elements of Go and Othello - but also a remarkable similarity to a Mastertronic game called Infection which was previewed by other magazines some time ago but never released (not to mention an arcade game based on it called Attax, and the forthcoming Virgin product Spot).

In the Ball Game version, between one and four players can play, in any combination of computer and humans, at skill levels ranging from 'Very Easy' to 'Ludicrous'. I don't have space to fully explain the rules here - it's all about little men jumping around the board, leaving coloured inflatable balls in their wake and trying to get close enough to spray-paint the coloured balls of the opposition - but they're very easy to get to grips with, and the game proves to be essentially very interesting and actually quite gripping.

There are several problems with this version, though - not least the introduction of a random teleport element which wasn't in the original Infection version of the game. (I can't understand why they introduced such a wild card to what is essentially a game of strategy and wits).

Graphically, too, things could perhaps be clearer - on anything less than the crispest monitors the colours of the balls can become hard to distinguish at times. In addition, playing at anything other than the very easiest level introduces a long delay in waiting for the computer players to make a move, and this, coupled with the fact that the game by its very nature takes quite a while to really get going, proves to be something of a fatal flaw.

Basically then, what we have here is a potentially brilliant board game, slightly spoiled by a couple of pointless twiddles and irritating inconsistencies. It's good, but it's at five times the intended price of Infection and proves to be something of a lesser game.

The Ball Game logo

Being slightly posh, Lord Paul Lakin assumed The Ball Game must be about cricket. Electronic Zoo soon put him right, but not before he'd spent eighty quid on a new cricket bat.

Yet again ZERO gives you a new cliché to replace the old favourites of yesteryear. Remember the old "An easy game to learn but a difficult one to master"? Well, its time has passed - here comes "An easy game to play but a pain in the frontal lobotomy to explain." That's The Ball Game for you.

In fact, trying to explain this sort of game is a heck of a lot harder than doing battle with Magnus Magnusson. So without further ado, let's move into the black chair and have two minutes on our chose object: The Rules And Scoring Of The Ball Game.

What is the maximum number of players who can take part in The Ball Game?

What is the design of the board?
Square at the easier levels with an increasing number of gaps higher up.

What are the two types of move open to you?
A step of one square or a jump of two.

How do you place a ball on a square?
You take a step, leaving a ball of your colour on the square you've just left.

What happens if you jump?
You don't leave a ball behind, but any balls surrounding the area you land on will be changed to your colour.

Is there any other way of moving?

Wrong. You can teleport.
Damn... sorry.

What is the disadvantage of teleporting?
Oh dear... oh, I know it... ah... pass.

What are the two systems of scoring in The Ball Game?
Oh blimey... um... ah... well, during a game you get points every time you place a ball or change an opponent's ball to your colour. This is the running total and at the end of the game the highest score wins. However, at the end of each round (or board) the points you have on the board at that moment are added up. The highest score wins the round and gains an extra teleport.

When does the game end?
When the players have used up all their teleports.

What colour is the... (PARP, PARP)... I've started so I'll finish. What colour is the flag of the Maldive Islands?
Oh, that's easy - red, green and white.

At the end of that round you scored a total of 8 points. You passed on one. The disadvantage of teleporting is that if you teleport to an occupied square you die. Thank you, good evening and God Bless Iceland.

Amiga reviewPaul: Falling somewhere between Battle Chess and Othello, The Ball Game manages to be both mindboggling and fun. Unusually for such a mind-game it is also very nice to look at. The little figures who serve as playing pieces move smoothly and have an anxious look around while preparing for the next move.

Even the sound effects are quite appealing. In fact, after a few minutes I was beginning to wonder if this really was a puzzle game. Surely it was some sort of shoot 'em up? It was during my eight hour wait for one of my computer opponents to move when I realised that a puzzle it certainly is.

The simplicity of the rules is not matched by simple strategy. At the highest difficulty setting the computer is as patient as Kasparov while deciding on its next move. (If you've got the attention span of an amnesiac goldfish in warm water you can choose the easy level where things move apace).

Although it's at its best when you've got more than one human player, The Ball Game is an addictive little number even as a one player game. The only real disappointment is actually winning. The game sort of peters out when everyone but the last player has run out of lives and (provided you're as skilled as me) the high score table appears. "Is that it?" I thought. Where's the fanfare? Where's the list of winners, losers and also-rans?

That apart, the game is simple and complicated in the right measures and in the right places. One of the best and most addictive games of this ilk that I've played and a whole more imaginative and exciting that its title.