Game Category: Action – Puzzle, Kids
Developer / Distributor: Gamezilla / Elephant Entertainment
Release Date: 22 May 2008
Rating: ESRB – Everyone
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Imagine a game that has you doing nothing else but aiming and throwing balls like a baseball slugger. Imagine yourself knocking down hundreds and hundreds of bottles in settings that are more elaborate then those you find at a carnival. Imagine that the bottles and 3D structures found in the game are subject to physics like ricocheting action, wind, gravity, spinning blades, weights, and more (all powered by the Havok engine). Now, imagine the game at a great budget price!
Yes, that describes “Bottle Buster – Knock ‘Em Down Around the World!” to a dime. Sure, it’s a long title for a casual arcade game that features action packed fun, so I’ll shorten it to Bottle Buster for the review. Developed by the now defunct John Galt Games (with development being done in Malaysia), the game is actually pretty fun to play.
I know, however, what you’re probably thinking… and I believe that most are already stereotyping this game; don’t shy away thinking the gameplay within is lousy. This is not true of Bottle Buster, in fact it was a pleasant surprise for me. Read on and check out our video below to see why…
|Bottle Busting has never been more fun!|
Only the Adventure button is enabled at the start of the game. This mode takes you through the 40 levels of the game. There are 10 themed environments in the game, with each environment divided into 3 bottle busting levels and 1 challenge level. You’ll get the chance to upgrade your ball after completing a challenge level; you’re given one point to use at the upgrade screen – we’ll cover more about upgrading later in the review.
|Start off at the carnival and visit 9 other environments|
The Quick Play mode is unlocked after you’ve completed the first environment in the game. This mode allows you to access any level you’ve already unlocked in Adventure mode so that you can have some much needed practice.
The final button – Challenge mode is only unlocked after you’ve played through all 40 levels of the Adventure mode. In Challenge mode, the game brings you to the next level of difficulty – you’ll play through the game all over again but must advance through all levels without losing, to win the game for good! A monumental task indeed, so make sure you set aside enough time to complete everything.
|Another 75 bottles to go before time runs out|
Your first environment brings you to a carnival, with bottles stacked neatly into pyramidal shapes atop small tables and shelves. You will also notice stuffed toys placed in the entire level. You will notice there’s a clock ticking. Start by taking aim with your mouse by positioning the cursor (shaped like a ring), and click with your left mouse button to let the ball fly.
According to the handy tutorial messages that pop up throughout the game upon every new feature, you must make sure you take into account gravity (and even the wind in the later levels). Notice, there’s no need to click and hold the mouse button to charge up some power bar, you only need click the mouse once to see the ball go.
|Edit the ball upgrades|
You can alter the behaviour of the ball through upgrades. There are four categories of upgrade in the game, with three of them having a direct impact on ball dynamics. The categories are:
- Speed – the ball travels faster and with more force,
- Mass – increases the mass of the ball so it can transfer more force to the bottles,
- Size – makes the ball expand in size, and
- Time – gives yourself more time to complete each level.
What makes Bottle Buster fun to play are four game play features – you can collect bonus bottles for extra points, you can destroy (some, if not all) 3D objects, you can solve puzzles to reach bottles placed behind obstacles, and you can have quite some fun with the different challenge levels.
|Hit the supports to get access to the bottles behind|
In the upper right corner of the screenshot below (below the clock icon) is a “splat” symbol denoting a colour; this is the bonus bottle colour. From the example below, if you hit any blue bottle onto the floor (or make it fly out of the level), you net for yourself bonus points. For convenience, the colour of your cursor also shows the bonus bottle colour.
Here’s a game tip (triple-click on this paragraph to read) – You will find that hitting the correct coloured bottles is crucial to winning some of the tougher levels. Make sure you get the timing right (the bonus bottle colour will cycle every few seconds) and do hit at precise locations to really chalk up your bonus tally.
|Hit blue coloured bottles for bonus points|
The ball will also interact with most 3D objects in the level. Hitting a stuffed toy will make it go flying; this will hopefully help to bring down some nearby bottles. Some other 3D objects, like supports holding a platform up, can be taken down to bring everything on the platform crashing to the floor.
Some of the levels also feature puzzles, like the one shown in the screen shot below. Notice that some of the bottles are lying inside a glass pyramid; there’s no way to reach them, right? Wrong! If you hit your ball at the golden ankh “fan-blades”, you will cause them to spin and make the bottles, resting on the connected platform below, fly off through centrifugal force. It’s such nifty little puzzles like this that continue to keep me glued to the game.
|Hit the golden ankh-shaped fan-blades to see them spin|
The 10 challenges in the game are another element that makes the game real fun. Some of them are easy to achieve, while others will require you to be a master Bottle Buster. Take for example, the second environment – it has you throwing balls at polar bears that march relentlessly from left to right to attack four helpless penguins. It’s nice to see that these cute stuffed toys actually have a use in the game (other than just squealing and flying around in the first 3 levels of an environment).
Graphics, Interface, and Audio
Quite some thought has gone into the design of the ten richly themed environments – there’s one based on Ancient Egypt, a mad Scientist’s Lair, the King’s Courtyard, a Junkyard, an Underwater Paradise, and even one located in Outer Space!
|Send the polar bears flying|
Each of the stuffed toys and 3D structures accompanying the levels look adequately designed. Although the polygon budget (number of polygons used on each 3D object) is quite low, they do still look good for a game of this nature. The interface is very straightforward and simple, with the tutorial explaining all the features to make sure you don’t get lost.
The music is cool and energetic, and will feel like thumping your feet or snapping your fingers to the beat. The sound effects are cute and silly; hitting the stuffed toys will elicit a cute little squeal, so by all means, slug them with a fast ball. Take a look for yourself in our first uploaded video on our very own DPCGR Channel(that’s short form for Daily PC Game Reviews) on Youtube.
|The tire swing pendulum purposely blocks your shots|
Bottle Buster – Knock ‘Em Down Around the World! is a true surprise of a niche game. Don’t be fooled by it’s cutesy or simplistic looks though; it’s precisely this and it’s endearing 3D environments and puzzles that make this game a nice one to collect (especially for kids).
- The game play is exquisitely simple and fun.
- There’s quite some nice variety in the 10 environments.
- It’s really cool looking to see objects reacting to the ball – all thanks to the Havok physics engine.
- The challenge levels take the game in a new direction… objectives are quite varied, so expect to drop 100 bottles, stop hungry polar bears, destroy an electrifying science experiment, rescue a prisoner from a pendulum of doom, and more.
- The 3D puzzles need some careful observation and thinking on your part to solve them. They are often quite intuitive and fun to solve.
- You have an entire load of trophies and prizes (stuff toys) waiting to be won.
I have a couple of criticisms that I’d like you to know about the game.
- There are two random elements in the game that will serve to frustrate you. First, the bonus colour bottle reward is totally random, expect to wait quite a while if you need a particular colour. Second, the wind can really frustrate you; one minute you’re throwing a curve ball going to the right, and the next moment it flies to the left.
- You can right-click to see where the remaining bottles are on the level. However, I felt that the yellow sparkling glow was not always bright enough to attract your attention.
- You have to restart a level from scratch if you fail to meet the time limit.
- The difficulty in the last two to three levels rise exponentially… don’t despair, tweak your upgrades and practice, practice, practice.
- You can’t skip the timer countdown in the end-level scoring sequence.
If you take a look around on the Internet, you will see other games have gone into selling merchandise based on their intellectual property. For example, take a look at this cool article on bizarre mobile game merchandise.
|Can’t wait to pelt these knights with a couple of balls|
If you ask me, the prizes in Bottle Buster look so cute and cuddly that I was hoping to be able to purchase them for my daughter… but alas there are none – such wasted potential! I doubt if the publisher, Elephant Entertainment (a division of THQ), is going to do anything about that.
Anyway, Bottle Buster is a fun game to spend some time with. It’s simple game play concepts, sweet looking environments, thought provoking 3D puzzle elements, and wonderful challenges all come together to make this a truly fun game. I do recognize that Bottle Buster – Knock ‘Em Down Around the World! may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so if you want to, get your hands on the demo first.
|Look at all them cuddly toys!|