Bounce Mania

by MSX Resource Center on 22-11-2004, 01:50

MRC Software Review: Bounce Mania

Title:      Bounce Mania
System:     MSX2
Memory:     128kB
Sound:      PSG
Medium:     1x2DD
Price:      €5,00 ($6,50)

It's been a while since this reviewer got a disk shoved in his hands with the accompanying order "write text!", but it looks like that time is finally coming back. This time, the subject is Bounce Mania, a puzzler first released on the MSX fair in Bussum, 2004.

Bounce Mania comes on a blue double density disk with a color printed paper label. It's always nice when people use DD disks for their products, and I've seen too many amateur products in the past that didn't. The label doesn't look bad, and is basically the title screen picture with the words PASSWORD YELLOW written on it.  




After turning on my computer I am treated to a nice DarkStone logo intro, followed by the Bounce Mania intro screen. The lack of an intro-tune motivates me to press the space key after which I am asked for a password. Since the label suggested 'yellow', I proceed to type this at the password prompt, only to be treated to a number of strange characters, not at all similar to those I used to spell yellow. The culprit is quickly found, the prompt requires capital letters. Since the back-space key doesn't work, I press the enter key to clear the line, and a quick tap on the CAPS LOCK key has me well on my way to entering the 'yellow' password. Soon, a beep sounds, followed by a reset... hmm...


Since I'm one of the very small number of people fortunate enough to own this rare piece of equipment called a Turbo-R, I figure that that might be the issue right there. And indeed, a reboot with the [1] held down quickly solved the problem by deactivating DOS2 and the R800. Once again, I'm treated to the DarkStone logo and the introscreen, although this time the animations aren't quite as smooth. Still no music, so I guess it is a good thing that I have a CD player in my room. A quick tap on the CAPS LOCK key has me typing 'yellow' again, and soon I'm off, playing my very first level. After a quick load that is, with a background reminding me that my password is yellow.  




The game basically consists of bouncing a ball through a maze, filled with obstacles. This idea is you reach your goal before time runs out. Don't, and your game is over...and there are no continues... Reaching the exit of every maze, isn't always simple though. I guess the best comparison is to that of a low-gravity environment. Perhaps you can also compare it to the 'lunar lander' type of game, where you had to land your Apollo on the moon surface. In this case though, you'll have unlimited fuel. After bouncing about for a while, you'll soon discover that bouncing is actually not the best way to get to your goal. Trying to float the ball through it, is a whole lot easier.


Naturally, this isn't made easy for you. There are objects everywhere, and the fact that the ball will react very slowly to your input adds to the difficulty. Especially in the beginning though levels are certainly doable, and you shouldn't have too much trouble finishing levels before your time runs out. Levels vary from maze levels to obstacle levels or a combination of the two. The foreground graphics vary per level, and look nice and colorful on the whole. The background graphics vary after each stage (password), although I didn't manage to get much past the initial 'yellow' stage. Background graphics look okay too, although they aren't as colorful as the foreground graphics.  




Like said, the graphics aren't too bad. They're nothing earth-shaking either, but certainly acceptable for the average puzzler. Gameplay isn't bad either, and the game is certainly addictive for a while. I did have my share of phun trying to beat the first couple of levels, having to resort to the password function a number of times. Too bad you have to start over every time though.


Levels are reasonably varied, each posing a 'different' challenge. Of course there's only so much you can do with a "bounce ball through maze" scenario, but the game does manage to pose a couple of challenging levels. It took this reviewer almost an hour just to clear the first stage. Of course once you get the hang of it, it does get a little easier.  




Some bad points were already named, mainly the bugs the game still had. Many of those could've been caught quite easily, and wouldn't have taken a whole lot of time to fix, especially considering the game was made in BASIC. The password issue could be fixed with one line of BASIC, replacing the bootsector with a DOS1 bootsector also takes about a minute. Minor details, like hiding the sprites after a Game Over, could have also been fixed.


Another complaint is the password system. It would have been nice if passwords would have been given in smaller intervals, say every 3 or maybe 5 levels. One of the reasons I didn't get past the second stage was the fact that 'game over' can mean spending 15 minutes on levels you had already passed. I know this technique has been used by a number of games, but I'm no fan of it...  




Two points. The first being the lack of music. I can appreciate the difficulty of finding a good musician willing to make some tunes for your project, but not having any music is of course a real minus. The second, and most important point, is a problem with the bouncing routine. It would seem that bouncing is calculated per pixel, and not per surface angle.


This results in some very unexpected bouncing behavior at times, and is of course a big minus for a game that is based on bouncing a ball through a maze. One of the biggest problems I had when trying to finish the game, was the fact that the ball often didn't do what it was supposed to do. I can understand this might be less easy to fix than some of the other issues, but it's certainly no less important.  




Apart from the obvious bugs, this game could have been a lot better if some points would've been addressed. The music issue is of course one of these points, and an improved bouncing routine wouldn't hurt either. Then there is of course the suggestion of having more passwords, which perhaps could be complemented by some clear stage and level numbering.  


The last point would be perhaps some interactivity on the maps. I guess this game could have been a lot more fun if the maps would be less static. I'm thinking revolving objects, moving parts, changes in gravity etcetera. There is a whole number of things that could've made this game a little more interesting.  


In any case, it would be nice if the authors at least released a new version with a couple of bug fixes, perhaps even some music. The rest could, I guess, also be implemented in a sequel, which would probably be a lot more fun to play.  




All in all, Bounce Mania isn't a bad game, but it isn't a good game either though. It doesn't have the feel of a finished game either. I imagine part of the issues mentioned were caused by the all too similar pressures of releasing a product in time for a fair, but some of the issues could have even been fixed on the fair. No music is of course a shame, but alas. Like said, an important issue is the bounce routine, which seems to fail at times. This does complicate matters quite a bit. The bugs I mentioned could be fixed with a patch, and I would hope the authors release at least an updated version via the internet. Naturally all things should be seen in their proper perspective, and with a price of 5 euros, I guess there's not that much to complain about either. Just flip a coin I would say... If it's heads, buy it. If it's tails, you're not missing out on a lot either...  


Game Concept:    65%
Graphics:        65%
Sound / Music:   20%
Playability:     50%
Lastability:     50%
Overall Score:   50%

Comments (4)

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

23-11-2004, 09:46

So, how about it? Should we say "write text!!" more often to tha t00b? Smile

By AuroraMSX

Paragon (1902)

AuroraMSX's picture

23-11-2004, 10:25

So, how about it? Should we say "write text!!" more often to tha t00b?


By zett

Hero (608)

zett's picture

23-11-2004, 19:20


I'm the writer of bounce mania.
The problem of the music is that i coun't find a music writer for the game.
I have tryed my self but I can't write the music.
I all ready had to make the sound fx.
I hope I get reaction from some people about the game(like starting up on a turbo-r in z80 mode how to do),
but it is my first game and it was very difficult.

I'm now buzzy on a new game with music and better controls and i hope i can finish it in the next jear

By Sonic_aka_T

Enlighted (4130)

Sonic_aka_T's picture

12-01-2005, 02:40

Good to hear you're working on a new game! If you need music for a game though, just ask Jorrith Schaap, that's what I always do! ^_^ About the Turbo-R starting with DOS2 and R800, just make sure you format a game that only works in DOS1 on a normal MSX2 with DOS1. If you format disks in DOS2 mode, the Turbo-R will automatically start in DOS2/R800 mode.