Aug 19, 2010

Lava Ball 3D

Lava Ball 3D from Exit 4 Gaming is a take on the ever popular Labyrinth genre of games in which you roll a ball through a maze. These games are popular now because they make great use of the accelerometer found on today's mobile devices. Lava Ball 3D tries to take this formula and turn it up a notch. Does it succeed?

First there's the title screen. From here you can choose a level on which to play and from 4 modes of play: Arcade, Hardcore, Preview and Practice. I don't really like the layout of this screen as it's less than intuitive, but the game does provide access to a help screen that explains how to use it via the Menu button standard on most (all?) Android phones. In a nutshell, clicking on the mode toggles it, but swiping on a level selects among those... inconsistent. But that's a petty issue if the game is good.

Jumping into the game reveals levels that consist of platforms containing many crystals that have to be collected before the time limit expires (unless you are in Practice/Preview modes which aren't really meant for serious play). The platform is suspended above a lava pit that swirls actively below. If you get rolling too quickly then you're likely to hurl yourself over the edge and ahhhhhhhh! all the way down. The graphics are good, but sound non-existent other than that fatal plunge into the abyss. The problem with the game, and something that could probably have been rectified easily with a calibration option, is that center for the ball (i.e. so that the ball stays roughly still) is not when I have my Droid flat... it's actually tilted a bit away from me and to the right. I've tried starting the game with my Android in a variety of positions, but there's apparently no calibration detection at the beginning of a level like some games use. This is not a deal breaker, but it does make me feel like a bit of a drunken' sailor when I'm playing the game and does cost the game half a star in my review.

In playing the game, the levels are certainly challenging, but not impossible. The game includes 30 levels, but the developers are active in adding to and improving the game. Hopefully the controls will be among those improvements. The levels also seem to include variety despite the somewhat bland color palette used across them. I also think it's nice that despite the fact that the Practice and Preview modes aren't for play they do serve a valid purpose... in order to do well you'll need to explore a level so you know where to go to pick up all of the crystals fast. You're not going to beat the clock cruising around willy nilly as the levels aren't simple.

All in all this is quite a good 'advanced labyrinth' style of game. A non-annoying musical score during play... perhaps something that intensifies with the timer would be nice as would a fix for my control issue, but behind this there's some solid fun to be had. 4/5 stars.


  1. Thanks for the review of our game. Your fair comments on some of the shortcomings of our game are well received. We want to be responsive to our customers issues and we are already working on some of these improvements to our first offering.

    In the upcoming weeks, Lava Ball 3D will be updated with improved sound and a calibration option. Additionally, expect several new levels to be added. We have also integrated ScoreLoop functionality into the game and will be sponsoring a high score contest in the upcoming weeks.

    Overall, the minor issues that were mentioned can be corrected. We think the major features of the game are well worth anyone's download. As mentioned, the game is Labyrinth style ball rolling turned up a notch. The game offers full 3D graphics AND PHYSICS. You can roll the ball or make it fall in any direction you want. Sometimes you will roll on the ground Labyrinth style, but at other times you will need to roll on the walls at angles and even on the backside of the screen.

    Again, thanks for the review and keep watching us for updates and new titles in the future.

    Best Regards,
    Charlie Zimmerman

    President - Exit 4 Gaming

  2. We have just released a new version of Lava Ball to the Market.

    In this release we address the minor issues pointed out above. The release features:

    - MUCH easier ball control!
    - Calibration option.
    - Improved ball feedback with ball sounds and subtle vibration.
    - Scoreloop integration.
    - A new ball look to better show off movement.
    - A more intuitive GUI.

    The game is even ON SALE right now! Grab it from the Market for a dollar off for a short time!

    Charlie Zimmerman

    Exit 4 Gaming