Let me get this straight. You've got a load of balls in space. And by bouncing similar balls together, you make them disappear. Dissimilar balls, when bounced together replicate into little balls. And if you don't manage to get rid of all the balls in a specific time frame, they explode and drain your energy. And that's it? Let's face it, E-motion sounds pretty rank doesn't it?
Fortunately, once you've got to grips with the rather silly premise behind the game, the astounding playability shines through. If you can stand to drag yourself away from your shoot outs and jump abouts, you'll be playing this for weeks.
However, you should be aware of the dangers involved in playing. For a start, there's a very high probability that you'll go round the twist at some point. You see, if only life was as simple as just bouncing the similar balls together. Alas, as soon as you progress past the first couple of levels, the balls become connected with elastic cables. Sometimes they're connected to other bails of the same type. More often they're connected to opposites. And frequently you find them tied to your own spaceship (with which do all the bumping).
Just when you thought you'd got to grips with simply moving round the screen and guiding the balls around, you have to learn a whole new skill. Not only is the elastic a bit difficult to predict, but since you scroll off the edge of one screen and onto another, the elastic suddenly changes position and everything all flies off in the opposite direction. The added pressure of really rather short time limits can turn it into a thoroughly maddening affair.
Other versions of the game had different coloured balls to play with, but to avoid attribute problems, USG has opted to mark each different type with triangles, squares and circles. In the heat of the action, it's a little too easy to mistake one shape for an other and bounce them together, letting loose a whole screenful of little balls.
Once you bodge one screen you can pretty much say goodbye to the rest of your game. Since the time limits are so tight, the amount of time you waste haring around, trying to chase down the little balls is so great that you really haven't got a hope in hell of clearing them all up and then successfully going back and finishing off the big ones. Each screen has a subtley different layout of static bollards which everything bounces off. US Gold haven't made anything easy. Every start position presents you with a host of problems. If I go up really fast, am I likely to get up enough speed to pull the two triangle pieces together without dragging one of the squares into the way? Can I get through the gap and head off the drifting piece before it collides with anything else?
As I said before, I figure the biggest problem is the wrap-around screen. It's a completely bizarre way of thinking. Not only do you have to employ all the lessons learnt from games like Asteroids, but you've got to try and predict the other objects' movement in the light of your own. It's like chess played at 100mph.
Label: US Gold
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Brilliant. But not for all tastes.
The dreaded elastic bands prepare their springyness to lure another hapless victim into a bouncy doom. Will you survive?