Ballistic Review

Ballistic is a simple and fun game with a fairly innovative puzzle mechanic that's at least good for a while.

If there were one genre that handheld systems are naturally inclined to, it would be the puzzle genre. Simply put, puzzle games focus on the gameplay - they don't really need astounding graphics or sound and therefore lend themselves well to the limited capabilities of handhelds. Ballistic is a perfect example of this - a fairly new and entertaining puzzle element that rests behind only modest graphics and sound.

When you play Ballistic you're reminded of Bust-A-Move - in both games you're a cannon that shoots different colored spheres at other spheres of the same color to eliminate them from the puzzle. Where the games differ is in the actual presentation. Instead of sitting the cannon at the bottom of your standard puzzle-gaming pit, you actually sits at the center of a spiral. The string of spheres moves along the spiral toward the center and effectively kills you when it reaches the cannon. As in most puzzle games, the key to preventing your doom is to start long chains and therefore eliminate large numbers of balls at once. You'll also get the help of various power-ups, such as the bomb piece (which eliminates one color of balls completely) and the snail piece (which slows down the rate that the string moves toward the center). But there are also things to deter you, such as covered parts of the spiral that inhibit shots, as well as tornadoes that deflect balls.

The graphics are pretty modest, even by Game Boy Color standards. Interestingly, this version uses icons as well as colors to represent different spheres. Unfortunately, this seems to make it that much more difficult to match similar spheres, and it somehow takes away from the gameplay. Ballistic rests on an unchanging light-blue background, perhaps to help you see the different colors better. The sound effects are pretty basic: a crashing sound when you eliminate balls and a hokey tune playing in the background. As in the PlayStation version, the sound gets especially annoying once you're almost dead, turning into a tense high-pressure-style song. Still, the graphics and sound are at least bearable, and the puzzle doesn't seem to suffer from lack of flair.

Control is simple and tight: Aim the cannon where you want to shoot a ball and hit a button to shoot it. This lack of complexity keeps the strategy purely at the surface of puzzle-game thinking and makes this more a puzzle game for casual players than anything else. Unfortunately, the game mechanic appeals to the lowest common denominator and as such can get a little boring at times. Still, Ballistic is a simple and fun game with a fairly innovative puzzle mechanic that's at least good for a while.

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Ballistic (1999) More Info

  • First Released Oct 31, 1999
    • Game Boy Color
    • Nuon
    • PlayStation
    Despite the simplistic nature of the game and sheer mediocrity of many of the game elements, Ballistic is still a fairly fun puzzle game with a refreshingly new premise.
    Average Rating40 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Mitchell, Infogrames
    Published by:
    Infogrames, Capcom, Nuon, THQ
    Puzzle, Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
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