IonBall 2: Ionstorm – What We Think:
One of my earliest (and therefore haziest) gaming memories is of playing some variant of Breakout as a child. I’ve only occasionally returned to the block-breaking genre – the little known Ricochet Xtreme is the last one I can remember. Ionball 2: Ionstorm fits neatly into the genre and the game offers a strong array of new features to help it grab your attention. Is it, however, worth your time and money?
Keep Your Ion The Prize
Ionball 2 doesn’t waste any time on niceties; after a brief opening the game thrusts you into a space-born cylinder-shaped vessel. This structure acts as a level select screen with multiple platforms supporting 12 levels apiece. Once you’ve selected a level, you’ll find yourself in familiar territory if you’ve ever played a breakout type game; you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen and you must bounce a ball up at blocks in order to destroy them. Let the ball fall off the bottom of the screen and you’ll lose a life.
The action is reasonably intense from the start and Ionball doesn’t coddle new players; the ball moves fast and you need to react faster to keep up. New enemy types keep things fresh with targets ranging from standard blocks to repair drones that heal other blocks. Most targets are color coded to show their health and this often results in some visually appealing spectacles as you tear apart a cluster of multi-coloured blocks.
Guns That Stun
As most power-ups are unlocked with gathered experience (rather than collected in-game) it can take a while for the more interesting abilities to show themselves. Eventually, however, you’ll be blasting enemy blocks with a laser while your statically charged ball is tearing through targets, while firing a machine gun at others.
While most upgrades are purchased, some, like multiple balls, can be collected during a level, providing temporary powers. Altogether the action is intense and some enemy types provide a satisfying puzzle to be solved. Repair drones need to be disabled quickly and some blocks can only be attacked from one side. The gameplay is fast-paced, but sufficiently complex to provide a few small challenges for your mind as well.
Lock, Stock, And Double Barrels
Unlocks will help keep you interested while you push through the game; saving up for a better machine gun or more damaging ball is a good reason to take on the next stage. There are 60 levels with three bosses spread across them, so there is a solid quantity of content to smash your way through. A codex is also provided so you can read up on the different enemy types and prepare appropriately.
Ionball 2 is visually impressive for a block-breaking title and it’s always satisfying to see the multi-color blocks exploding in a cascade as you smash your way through. The music might be a little too skewed towards metal for some people’s tastes but I found it felt appropriate for the action and kept the intensity up.
Break On Through
Altogether Ionball 2 is a strong block-breaking title that offers the right combination of action and planning to keep things interesting as you progress. Appealing visuals and bold music help to support the gameplay. The interface can be a tad slow to respond at times in the menu screens and this can slow down the action between levels. Other than this small drawback, however, Ionball 2 is worth a look if you enjoy casual action games or classic block-breaking fun.
Ionball 2 is available on Steam and Greenman Gaming
Watch the official trailer for Ionball 2: Ionstorm, below: