BounceBack Review—Bounce Me to the Moon
BounceBack is one of those games that rolled under our radar. It’s developed by Steel Minions, a group of students at Sheffield Hallam University (not surprisingly in the UK), but to be honest, you really couldn’t tell it was from college students if not for the splash screen for the university.
It’s a puzzle platformer, similar to The Lost Vikings and reminding me somewhat of Minis like Revoltin’ Youth and Ambassador Kane. The goal is to get one character, Lanos, to the end of the level by controlling him as well as a host of other helpful characters. It’s very much story-based, with comic book-like panels appearing before many stages.
Toy Story-based, almost, at least that’s what it reminded me of. Lanos is a child’s bouncing ball who is being neglected, so he decides to head out on his own, where he overcomes challenges by making friends. It’s all very charming and, well, disgustingly cute.
Each character has his own special abilities. Lanos, being a ball, pretty much just bounces. But others can do things like fly or jump or swim. Basically, you have to use a combination of characters to flip switches and whatnot in order to make the path clear for Lanos, then move him along it. There’s a little platforming required, though not much. When you are done, you get ranked with a star and a score.
While there is a certain amount of thought required, the levels really require more exploration than anything else. Find out where the switches are, and how to flip them, or how to move Lanos along the way to the exit.
There are six different worlds, with six levels per world. You have to go through each level one at a time, unlocking the next, so it’s quite linear. Since it’s telling a story, that does make sense, but things like that can always get frustrating if you can’t beat a level. There are no awards or achievements or such, but you can go back and replay levels and try to get a better score/star.
Graphically, it reminds me a little bit of Open Emotion’s games, with a look that seems almost drawn with a colored pencil, though in this case, more like a comic or perhaps a 1950s-era cartoon. A very nice look, at any rate. Although moving characters around doesn’t seem to have any animation, when they are idle you can see them move a little.
The sound effects are very cute. When you select a character, there is a tiny bit of speech that almost sounds like kids talking. The menu sound effects seem to be sampled from the Atari 2600. And while the music isn’t prominent, not something that stands out, it is very fitting to the game.
Although puzzle platformers are not rare, they aren’t exactly common, either, so BounceBack is a very welcome addition to the Minis lineup, especially as it is an original title, not a port. It’s extremely well done, and if it doesn’t put a smile on your face, you have no soul. Or just a very grumpy soul. On the downside, though, it’s a bit short on content. I would have liked more levels, unlockables, that sort of thing.