Reviewed: April 17, 2010
Released: March 12, 2010
App Store Price: $.99
Puzzles involving rolling balls have been around for as long as I can remember ranging in simplicity from those tiny silver balls trapped in a thin plastic shell found in cereal boxes to the more elaborate wooden mazes and a single larger ball. Naturally, video games were quick to emulate these puzzles and with the advent of motion input on devices like the Wii and iPhone, we now have dozens of these puzzles games to test our dexterity and balance.
Sync-Ball builds on the concept of these rolling ball puzzles but replaces the dexterity element with an almost supernatural puzzle-solving design that will test your powers of observation and anticipation. The concept is almost too simple and designer Brett Ballow is probably wondering why somebody didnít beat him to the idea. Sync-Ball removes all the pressure of scores and timers and simply asks you to put all the balls in all the holes on each of 80 levels Ė AT THE SAME TIME.
You are eased into this concept with two spheres that appear in a uniquely crafted maze with two strategically place holes. All you have to do is swipe your finger in any of four directions to move the balls in unison around the maze. In some locations a wall might prevent a ball from moving and this is how you manipulate the pattern of the balls so you can orchestrate their delivery into their respective holes at the exact same time. If one ball goes in before another or one falls off the edge of the maze you have to start over.
The game is simply brilliant, greater than the sum of its parts, simple in visual design and not much on sound except for the swishing swipes of the balls and the synthesized groan when a ball tumbles off the edge of the maze. The difficulty ramps up when more balls are added, up to four at a time, and the mazes increase in complexity. Early levels can be solved in seconds where later levels will take many minutes and several restarts.
There are so many amazing apps out now for the iPhone, many with much higher production values than Sync-Ball, but the sheer ingenuity and addictive gameplay, and especially the quick pick-up-and-play style of gameplay - the game saves your progress and starts you there next time Ė makes this the perfect iPhone game. Iím only two-thirds through all the puzzles but even when Iím done this game isnít leaving my iPhone anytime soon. A must buy app and only a buck! What are you waiting for?