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Author Topic: Mini-Review: Obulis (game)  (Read 8152 times)

cthorpe

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Mini-Review: Obulis (game)
« on: June 23, 2008, 09:38:22 PM »
Basic Info

App NameObulis
App URLhttp://www.ionfx.com...roduct_pc_obulis.htm
App Version Reviewed1.0
Test System Specs
Quote
Vista Home Premium with SP1
Core2 Quad Core @ 2.4GHz
4.0GB Ram
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT w/ 512MB of video RAM
Supported OSesVista/XP/2000/ME/98 with Pentium 4 or better and 128MB Video RAM
Support MethodsEmail using contact form at http://www.ionfx.com/contact.php
Upgrade PolicyUnknown at this time
Trial Version Available?Demo version available with reduced level set
Pricing Scheme$19.99 USD
Screencast Video URLOfficial trailer video: http://www.ionfx.com...videoplayer_OBPC.htm
Also, look for the Screencasts in the review below (see note at end of review about screencasts)
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product I am not affiliated with IonFx in any way, nor do I receive any compensation of any kind from the company as a result of sales generated by this review.  I am a registered user of two of the company's PocketPC games.  The developer sent me a free license to Obulis for PC.  At no time did the developer ask me to write a review of this program, nor did I imply to him that I would be reviewing it in exchange for the free license.


Intro:

Obulis is an outstanding physics based puzzle game for the PC.  It began as a pair of excellent PocketPC games (Obulis and Obulis: The Second Epoch), which recently were named in a list of "All-Time Top 10 Games" by Smartphone and PocketPC Magazine (April/May 2008).  Now that the game has made the transition to the desktop, there is no reason not to install the demo and take a look.  You won't be disappointed.


o1.png

Who is this app designed for:

This game is designed for anyone who likes to use his or her brain, is looking for a casual game that doesn't take hours to learn and play, and can't stand the thought of another "Match 3" or "Sim Something-Or-Other" clone.  The game does occasionally require rapid mouse movements and clicking on small objects.


The Good

The goal in this game is simple: get the colored balls into the matching containers.  To do this, you have to cut the connectors that are holding the balls in place when the stage begins.  Cut a connector by clicking on it first with the left mouse button to select it and then clicking the right mouse button anywhere on the screen or pressing space, and the ball will fall or swing, bouncing off objects, and starting other balls rolling or swinging on their own connectors.  During this process, everything acts like you would think it would act in the real world.  Balls have mass, momentum, and inertia (you'll even make use of fully functional Newton's Cradles on more than one occasion).  If all goes well, all the balls will end up in the correct containers and you will win the stage.  If something goes wrong, such as a ball ending up in a mismatched container or one of the colored balls falling off the bottom of the screen or rolling off the edge, then you will "fault" on the level and have to start over.  Other times, you won't get a fault, but it will be impossible to win the level because of a mistake you made, so you will have to click the restart button or press the r key on your keyboard to reload the level.

o2.pngMini-Review: Obulis (game)

Screencast Here is a screencast of a simple level.

This simple premise continues through the 151 levels of the game, but additional devices and types of balls will appear to help and hinder you.  You will find plenty of silver balls that act just like the colored balls, however they will cause a fault if they fall into any containers and they can be dropped off the screen or rolled off the edge with no penalty.  You will also come across catapults, elevators, gears, slingshots, bouncy surfaces, and other devices to move balls from one place to another.  Some are controlled by you (cut the cord holding a catapult's arm down to allow it to shoot a ball across the screen), and others are constantly moving or trigger automatically when a ball comes into range.  On top of all of that, you have to take into account the physics of the objects you are working with.  Big balls have more mass and aren't affected as much when small balls hit them, and they can really get a small ball moving if dropped on it.  Some balls are connected to chains that cause some irregularity in the swing when hit by other balls, while others are connected by poles which cause the ball to remain a set distance from the pivot point at all times.  Still other balls are connected with elastic cords that will cause the ball to snap back after being released from another connector.

Screencast Here is a screencast showing gears and slingshots.

If you get stuck, you can always click on a button to see the solution to the level, but that's cheating isn't it  ;).  As you complete each level, you move on to the next on a map screen.  Many times you will have a choice of which direction to go on the map, so if you are stuck somewhere you can always try a different direction and come back to a puzzle later.

o6.pngMini-Review: Obulis (game)

The graphics in this game are well done, with each area having a different look ranging from grasses and flowers to quasi-eqyptian to dark and forbodeing forests.  One cool part about the scenery is the foreground layer of unfocused foliage in the grassy and forest areas.  This foliage waves back and forth and is blurred and translucent so you can see the balls behind it.  It's a really cool effect that you have to see to appreciate.  Here are some screenshots of a few more of the environments:

o3.pngMini-Review: Obulis (game) o4.pngMini-Review: Obulis (game) o5.pngMini-Review: Obulis (game)

The sound for the game is probably the weakest part.  The music seems like it was an afterthought.  It's not bad or annoying, but it's not memorable either.  Likewise, the sound isn't very lively, however there's only so much you can do with balls hitting each other.  You can mute the music or sound effects independently of each other in the game settings if you want to listen to your own music or if you find the effects bothersome.


The needs improvement section

Gameplay: I think there should be more of a deterrent to using the solution button.  As it is, there doesn't seem to be any penalty for using it.  Make sure you don't resort to it until you've really given yourself a chance to figure the puzzle out.  Also, it would be great if you could hit the solution button, and then stop it before it shows how to solve the whole thing.  That way it could help you figure out the first step and then you could go from there.  Right now it plays the entire thing and there doesn't seem to be a way to stop it midway.

Technical: As I mentioned above, the sound is the weakest area of the game.  About the only other thing I see that could be better would be if the program could be run in a window.  As it is now, it must be played full screen.  Luckily it seems to behave itself when Alt-Tabbing to other programs, so it's not too much of a problem.

Why I think you should use this product

It's a awesome puzzle game that has a fresh gameplay mechanic.  With a fully functional demo (limited level set), you can get a feel for the game and decide if it is as compelling for you.  If you are a fan of the PocketPC games, you are probably already sold on this for the simple fact that it is more levels of Obulis goodness.


How does it compare to similar apps

The only similar games I can think of are the two PocketPC editions of the game which are available from the same developer.


Conclusions

Puzzle fans will find a lot to like here, and with 151 levels it will last you for quite some time.  It's a refreshing change of pace from the seemingly endless supply of puzzlers that appear to be rehashes of only a few ideas with a new paintjob.  I've been playing the PocketPC versions of this game for months and I've been loving every minute of it.  In the short time that I've been playing the PC version, I can tell that it is as good or better than the handheld versions, and the enhanced graphics and easier control makes it a lot more visually appealing and accessible.  Finally, if you have a PocketPC and you like this game, definitely give the PPC versions a shot as well.

Links to other reviews of this application

I couldn't find any other reviews of the PC version, but here are some reviews of the PocketPC versions.
http://spmwinkel.wor...is-the-second-epoch/
http://justanothermo...is-the-second-epoch/

Screencasts

Screencasts created with a combination of Taksi and Camtasia.  Actual gameplay is much sharper and smoother.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 11:57:52 PM by cthorpe »

mouser

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Re: Mini-Review: Obulis (game)
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2008, 05:16:18 AM »
i cant believe i didnt say thank you for this minireview earlier.. it's not exactly my cup of tea game but very cool review  :up: :up:

gabby121

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Re: Mini-Review: Obulis (game)
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2008, 03:49:50 PM »
 :) Good review, I think I'll try it