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BitMango’s slogan seems to be “We Make A Puzzle,” but that can’t quite be right as they’ve certainly put together more than one puzzle — or even puzzle-type — within their recently debuted Roll the Ball (out now, free). The best way to explain Roll the Ball’s setup would be to describe it as a fusion of Pipe Mania mixed with classical sliding-tile style game-play, with additional game-play mechanics added over time. Although the final product isn’t without its own share of faults — per se — you could certainly do far worse, especially considering the over-all package has been offered for absolutely free.

Anyways, the game’s main-mode — as there’re no plotlines to discuss here — involves you attempting to arrange a grid filled with pipe-containing tiles, such that there’s a straight path form the beginning all the way to the end-point. As to be expected you may on each challenge — none of which are randomly generated — freely slide any piece into an adjacent space if it’s empty, unless that particular piece happens to be bolted down. Furthermore, the ball will immediately begin rolling straight for the goal — without any extra button presses needed — the exact moment you’ve provided it with a complete pathway to follow.

Now simply getting the ball to the goal in the initial game-mode isn’t really all that difficult, but that’s where a classic mobile-mainstay — the three-star rating-system — comes into play. Three specific pieces will each have a star in them, and — in order to get a perfect-rating — you’ll ideally want to construct a pathway that successfully includes all three of them in the process. While trying to arrange all of these tiles correctly you’ll want to remember that you’ll fail if — along the way — you make a viable-path before you’re properly ready, as that leads to the level immediately finishing itself.

This game-mode — which contains a rather impressive number of puzzles to solve — is still only one of four, all of which have a massive number of tile-boards for players to work their way through. The next puzzle-collection works much the same as the first one, except that — rather than trying to build a path linking all of the star-having tiles — players are instead challenged to form a proper circuit within a specific number of moves. Stars will then be awarded based on how close players were to achieving the current-course’s par, something that will be a regular-feature going forward for the next two game-modes.

Yet another of Roll the Ball’s game-modes throws rotating-tiles into the mix, but this action can only be performed on specially-marked tiles (curiously they will sometimes even allow otherwise bolted-down tiles to be rotated).  However — other than the inclusion of the aforementioned rotating-action — this game-mode otherwise plays basically the same as the previous one, with players striving to win within x many moves. As such the rotation-mechanic does allow for puzzles with far more complicated solutions than offered by the previous game-modes, but is otherwise the exact same experience.

Where things become the most unique — and perhaps also the most challenging — would be Roll the Ball’s carry-mode, wherein the ball begins moving all on its own the moment a puzzle begins. As one might expect from such a premise, a failure-state will occur should the player allow this ball — which normally moves rather slowly — to impact any sort of dead-end before reaching the goal. Thankfully there’s an on-screen button that accelerates the ball’s motion while its held, as otherwise this game-mode would be painfully awkward to play through with how slow the ball normally chugs forward.

Perhaps it’s just me, but my biggest complaint with Roll the Ball would be that none of the puzzles — save for where carry-mode is concerned — generally ever seemed to be all that hard. Though — to be fair — I should point out that there’s a veritable-ton of puzzles available for each mode, so there’s certainly room for things to eventually ramp themselves up to a more suitable difficulty. That said — depending on how much fun people have with the lower-levels — it’s just as likely they’ll never reach the deeper-portions of any given mode, since all of those puzzles must be played explicitly in order.

But hey, at least there’s no pay-to-skip option — as some other mobile-games would’ve all-too-happily included — meaning these early-levels, even if they are a bit on the simplistic side, weren’t included as part of any duplicitous-intent on BitMango’s part.

Anyways — issues aside — Roll the Ball is a primarily ad-supported experience, with a omnipresent banner-ad always being displayed at the bottom of your iDevice’s screen (thankfully this placement makes it easy to avoid accidental-collisions). There will additionally be video-ads that automatically play themselves after a handful of levels have been solved, but thankfully these never once managed to crash my iPod Touch 5. Finally — yet no less importantly — there are video-ads that one may electively watch in order to receive a free-hint regarding the current-puzzle’s optimum-path, although these hints — which may be stockpiled until needed — are also earnable via other methods.

I really just wish there were means to start deeper within Roll the Ball’s challenges, as those early tables — ranging from 4×4 to 5×5 in size — comprise the chief-most issue holding this back for me (but your personal mileage may vary in regards to difficulty). Should you be willing to slog through the early tables — or perhaps simply don’t agree with my personal difficulty assessments — then it’s rather likely you’ll enjoy Roll the Ball, which is otherwise quite well made. After all, you could easily do far worse than BitMango’s Roll the Ball — which definitely contains more than just one puzzle — should you be looking for something free to play during your next lunch-break.

Verdict

BitMango’s Roll the Ball is a merger of the classical sliding-tile puzzle coupled with the game-play of Pipe Mania, wherein you slide about tiles — each containing a pipe-segment — in order to construct a path for your ball. There’re four different variants upon this premise available — each with a ton of unique stages — but my personal favorite certainly had to be carry-mode, wherein you dynamically move stuff while the ball’s rolling. Although certainly a good ad-supported free-offering, the biggest problem with Roll the Ball — although your personal mileage will vary — is that the earliest levels within each game-mode (which can’t be skipped) are a touch on the overly-simplistic side of things.

'Roll the Ball' Review: A Fun 'Pipe Mania'-esque Puzzler
Free gameNo coercive IAPsSolid controlsMultiple modesTons of levels
The earliest puzzles in most game-modes - other than ‘carry’ - are a bit too easy
3.0Very Good