who is the blue man? why does it say CHAIN on his forehead? what is it with the bananas? what's going on?
These are from my new iOS game "Deflex", currently in review at Apple, hopefully out soon.
Let's start with a walkthrough of the first level.
The level starts with the ball rolling up and down vertically between the ranks of musk oxen. It leaves that rainbow-chalkline-ish trail behind it as it rolls. The only controls are the two deflector buttons which you can see at the bottom left and right of the screen.
On this first level the points value of each ox is displayed all the time - this is so you can see how it changes according to what you do. Normally the points value is only displayed when you actually collect a target.
The particles that make up the ball gradually "evaporate" over time - you can see some of them spinning off near the ball. This imposes a natural time limit on the level = if you just leave the ball doing nothing, eventually it'll evaporate and the level will end with no score.
We don't want this to happen, so we're going to press the right-hand "\" deflector button when the ball is abreast of the double line of oxen at the bottom of the screen.
Here's the scene just after doing that. Let's see what happened:
- The ball, going downwards, had a "\" deflector placed in its path. The deflector acts like a 45-degree mirror and changes the path of the ball accordingly - a downward-moving ball deflected by \ ends up going to the right, and now it's smashing into the musk oxen, collecting them. Collecting targets gives points and also restores the particles lost to evaporation, so you want to keep doing it in order to prolong the level. It's also raising the multiplier, as you can see.
- The deflector is now "/". Why is that? because one of the basic rules of Deflex is that whenever a deflector is hit by the ball - which happens immediately when you first place one - it flips to the opposite kind. We can use that property to build fairly complex ball trajectories using only a few deflectors, something that becomes useful on later levels.
But for now let's let the ball run. It'll finish picking up that right hand double row of musk oxen, then bounce back off the right hand side of the screen, back towards that deflector.
It's bounced off the deflector, then the bottom of the screen, then off the same deflector again, and is now picking up the opposite row of musk oxen. We haven't had to do anything at all except place that one deflector so far and we've already picked up quite a few oxen.
It's worth remembering that deflectors will tend to act symetrically, and that it's worth letting the ball roll around a bit to see how it'll move as the deflectors on the level are hit and change state. Often it'll be to your advantage, especially as you learn the game's ways and begin to place deflectors strategically to take advantage of this effect.
With the ball travelling leftwards we place a "\" deflector, which bounces the ball up into the herd of musk oxen on the left hand side of the screen.
As we approach the screen top we place a "/" deflector - as we're going up this has the effect of bouncing the ball to the right, all along the top row of oxen.
The ghostly Hubbard heads indicate that we are hitting targets one after another quickly enough to form a chain. During a chain the multiplier holds, and can be increased by hitting multiple targets simultaneously. Going too long between targets resets the multiplier.
Approaching the right-hand side of the screen again we place a "\" deflector, to bounce the ball down towards the musk oxen below.
Picking up two oxen simultaneously has increased the multiplier. We've held a good chain so far and it's up to x5. The ball is going down the screen and there's an obvious row of oxen that can be collected if we place a "/" deflector to send the ball off to the left.
There we go - the row of Hubbards confirming that we've held the chain. Only a few oxen are left to mop up now.
Letting the ball roll on and bounce off the left screen edge we pick up a couple more oxen and as we do so we get the ON SOURCE achievement (for getting plenty of Hubbards on one level).
With a few well placed deflectors we mop up the last few targets until there's just one musky ox left.
Level's complete - and although we scored fairly well it's a long way off the best online score. Completing the levels usually isn't too difficult in itself - part of the fun is learning ways to complete the levels that give you higher multipliers and more points.
A stat graph built in to the level selector shows you where you stand compared to the online best.
Deflex is a game that is pretty chilled and relaxing - there isn't even a "Game Over". You can play any level you've unlocked at any time, and the unlocking itself is designed not to be arduous. Levels unlock in chunks of 4 at a time, and the next chunk will open up when 3 out of the 4 previous have been completed; so even if one level has you stumped it needn't block progress through the game.
The nooding piano music and the gently pulsing backgrounds make for a nice relaxing time, and the very nature of the game - lots of individual levels each with their own score tables and which can be played in any sequence at any time - lends itself to being dipped into for a quick go every now and again. No need for huge marathon sessions in order to get a high score (although an aggregate high score for the whole game is used on the Overall leader board).
Here's a few sreens from some of the other levels:
Tidying up the diskettes.
Collecting the camels in the camel maze.
Ponies for the bronies.
Chasing evasive e-meters.
Ron approves of your banana madskillz.
Not only the ponies are pink.
Cake and PONG.
Something happened to my GEM desktop.