Ah, yes, the gooey, bouncy blob.
For many a video game, the blob has served as both protagonist and foe through the industry’s rich and storied history. You’ve got the colorful blobs in popular Japanese puzzle game Puyo Puyo. There’s also the blob-like Yellow Devil of Mega Man fame.
Then you’ve got Wiz and Waz from the game SolaRola. In this app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices, players guide the blobby duo to several planets as they try to foil the dastardly plans of nemesis Ping the Unmerciless. The first thing players will notice is that life is apparently good when you’re a space-faring blob. How else could you explain the fact that cheerful blob Wiz reacts to every single jump with pure, unbridled joy?
Jump on down to a grassy knoll?
Jump up some metal pipes?
Narrowly escape de-blobbing by hopping over multiple lava traps?
Wiz’s glee certainly makes you feel quite guilty when you have him happily jump into a burning obstacle that causes him to burst into several blobby pieces. I’m sorry, Wiz! I am so, so, so sorry...
For the uninitiated, SolaRola is a puzzle platformer that has you navigating through 60 missions set in various worlds. To move, you can either pick a virtual D-pad that places the controls on your screen or opt for a gyro-based system that lets you tilt your device left or right instead. To jump, you need to tap a virtual button on your screen. Along the way, you need to safely guide your bouncy hero through the various stages while preventing untimely de-blobbing from hitting dangerous obstacles. While mission objectives change, they're mostly based on getting your blob to a certain spot.
SolaRola eases players generously at the beginning with simple stages and easy-to-obtain secret star pieces. Things change, however, as you get farther in the game and all sorts of difficult obstacles get thrown your way. The murderers’ row includes jumping spikes and lava hazards that are strategically placed in areas where they can cause the most deaths and annoyance. You also have areas that initially seem safe until you realize you’ve got fiery little magma balls slowly filling the stage. To survive, you’ll need to take advantage of various elements scattered in the many stages and use them properly. Skillful bomb use, for example, not only allows you to destroy obstacles but also lets you propel your blob higher to get to stuff that’s normally out of reach. You can also use ropes to swing Tarzan-like and traverse hazards or reach new areas.
Admittedly, the game has its share of hiccups. Sideways movement can be a bit wonky at times, which can bite you in your blobby behind when navigating tricky areas such as multiple lava obstacles (grrr). There are also times when your blob gets stuck on an obstacle and isn’t able to jump and you'll need to shake your hero out by moving sideways (double grrr).
Despite its niggles, however, SolaRola is still a pretty solid game overall. Give it a shot if you’re looking for some puzzle-platforming fun for your touchscreen device.
Oh yeah — Whee!
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- Platform: iPod, iPhone and iPad devices with iOS 3.1 and higher; Android
- Cost: 99 cents
- Final rating: 3.5 stars out of 5