Release Date:March 24, 2010
Price:$0.99 (lite version is free)
Summary:A somewhat erratic and unusual physics puzzle game where you ricochet balls into chutes based on carefully placed pressure points. It's tricky and unusual enough to make it worthwhile.
I was listening to Hotel by Broken Social Scene this morning as I went about my routine – walk dog, shower, breakfast, fiddle with apps – and I noticed this one app, Bernoulli Ball, really complemented the music at hand. I’m always tickled by these strange nuances of life, so I decided to explore the game further, deciding, upon deeper inspection, that the game was a good one, if a bit garishly eccentric.
For those of you who have dabbled beyond the first introductory physics course in college, you may know a thing or two about fluid dynamics, and a particular mathematician by the name of Daniel Bernoulli. The developer, Clever Martian, is coyly clever, indeed, for turning a simple physics-guided game into a reference to Bernoulli’s Principle, which states that “the pressure of a fluid, liquid or gas, decreases as the speed of the fluid increases.” To elucidate, a rise (fall) in pressure in a flowing fluid must always be accompanied by a decrease (increase) in the speed, and conversely, if an increase (decrease) in , the speed of the fluid results in a decrease (increase) in the pressure. This is at the heart of a number of everyday phenomena. As a very trivial example, Bernouilli’s principle is responsible for why a shower curtain sucks inward when the water is first turned on. What happens is the increased water/air velocity inside the curtain (relative to the still air on the other side) causes a drop in pressure. The pressure difference between the outside and inside causes a net force on the shower curtain, sucking it inward. A more useful example is provided by the functioning of a perfume bottle: squeezing the bulb over the fluid creates a low pressure area due to the higher speed of the air, which subsequently draws the fluid up. Within the same fluid, high-speed flow is associated with low pressure, and low-speed flow is associated with high pressure. This phenomenon also applies to the lift produced by the wings of an airpline, i.e. an airfoil. The airfoil is designed so that the air moves more rapidly over its upper surface than its lower surface, thereby decreasing pressure above the airfoil. At the same time, the impact of the air on the lower surface of the airfoil increases the pressure below. This difference between the decreased pressure above and the increased pressure below produces lift; thus, a wing with more curvature on the top surface, has greater lift than a wing with a flat surface. There you have it: a crash course in the day-to-day applications of Bernoulli’s Principle. But, back to the game, shall we?
Like a teaser on Bernoulli’s Principle, Bernoulli Ball requires you to move balls with the use of applied pressure – in the game, it takes the form of “touchwaves” from your finger taps that, depending on their proximity to the ball, create different degrees of pressure in the direction of the ball, making the ball move in a certain direction, at a certain speed. Sure, it’s not a perfect recreation of the principle, but I appreciated the tongue-in-cheek reference. The game is really a collection of mini-games, including Chute Me, The Factory, Rollin Ramps, and Ratchet Run, all of which have different layouts or obstacles, but just one objective: get the highest score possible by getting all the balls in the chutes. Chute Me, in a way, is the simplest of the four, with no obstacles other than the beleaguered attempts on your part to apply the right pressure at the right time to shoot your balls into the landing chute, illustrated on the far right side of the screen. Rollin Ramps has two, slowly rotating ramps that hamper your balls’ progress to the chute, and it, along with The Factory and Ratchet Run, employs the use of pressure pumps located at random spots on the screen – these will blow puffs of air at your ball when it slows, giving it new kinetic energy, and of course, madly spiraling it in unforeseen ways.
The gameplay is a bit rough – you’ll experiment widely with flicks, short touches and light taps, and decide each of these produce mediocre and often unpredictable results, until you discover the hold. The hold is just holding your finger on the screen, and it produces this large, sizzling, yellow pressure point that enlarges to take up a good 1/8 of the screen – it’s like cheating, in a way, because rather than drive yourself mad by finding a happy tapping medium, you just hold your finger down, and slowly herd the balls toward the chute with the subtle, ricocheting pressure. It kind of takes the strategy out of the game, but at the same time, it also makes the game enjoyable enough to play. If you never hold your finger down, then you’ll be stricken with agonizing defeat, watching ball after ball escape your touchwave pressure taps, to fall into the lost ball zone, taking you one step closer to losing the game. Trust me, the game is still challenging when you employ the holding method, because after each round, more balls are introduced into play (the first round releases one ball, second round two balls, and so forth), turning the physics game into more of a juggling act. Also, these strange, autonomous balls called a vabo are released every now and then to your chagrin, bouncing around everywhere and knocking your balls around with their strange, radiation symbol tattooed on their front. Overall, not particularly great, or challenging gameplay in the way I think the developers had in mind – more just challenging from technical issues.
To add flair to the game, there’s an incentive to shuffle the balls to the chute in the form of bonus points, achieved through arranging the balls by order of color when collecting them (doubles score for the round), or by pressuring them into the chute while they’re in the “long shot” zone, which multiplies their individual worth by 5. Each ball is normally worth one point, but when you put balls of the same color in the chute together? Then you increase their worth by a power of 2 for each ball in the group – for example, for four green balls, the first ball is worth one point, the second two points, the third four, and the fourth is worth eight. For every 250 points you earn, you receive a reserve ball – reserve balls are usually in the negatives for me because every time you lose an in-game ball to the lost ball zone, you lose a reserve ball. Tally up -5 reserve balls and the game is over. If you end the game when you have a positive amount, however, then you receive 25 bonus points multiplied by the ball count. Phew! Really, try not to pay too much attention to the point earning in this game – just play around and get a feel for yourself.
The gameplay is interesting enough, but what really pulled my interest to Bernoulli Ball (aside from it complementary nature to the song Hotel) is its unique design. It’s designed somewhat like an erratic, neon Pinball machine, with lighted arrows and moving spindles, pocket holes and levers – but, at the same time, it’s wholly unlike a pinball machine. It’s resplendent in dark, but glowing colors, and an almost amorphous flow, like a doodle someone would trace on their binder paper during a particularly boring lecture. Claw-like nooks and crannies jut out of nowhere, and yet the chutes, where they open and end, have a symmetry to them in relation to the rest of the playing field design. I’ll give credit where it’s due – it’s a very cool design, if a little unfinished feeling.
We have some promo codes today for this game, so I encourage you to check this one out.
*When using the promotion code to download for free, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis. Out of courtesy, please leave a comment below mentioning you’ve used the promotion code.
Categorized as: Arcade