Tiltball for Merge Cube

Tiltball for Merge Cube – Game Review (iOS)

In this post, I’ll be reviewing Tiltballl for Marge Cube.  Tiltball is a balancing AR game where the player race against the clock, guiding a boulder through a medieval obstacle course. It’s one of those game that came straight to my mind when I imagine a game running on the Merge Cube. I’ve played these type of rotate and roll games on my iPad. those games use the accelerometer to rotate the surface which the ball is sliding on. I really enjoy playing those games on my iPhone and I wonder if this Merge Cube AR version of the game would be any better.

What is Tiltball?

Tiltball arctic level 2 screenshot in AR
The arctic level, beautiful level design.

Tiltball is a ball-balancing game. The goal of the game is to guide a boulder from one place on the Merge Cube to another endpoint located on another facet. To move the ball, you need to rotate the Merge Cube so the balance of the ball with lean towards the direction you want it to move to.

Unlike the other tilt ball games that I’ve previously played, this one is obviously different for a few reasons. First of all, the game takes place on a cube, rather than a flat surface. Second, instead of a dull wood labyrinth level, the game features a stunning and colorful medieval obstacle course.

Before and after launching Tiltball on the Merge Cube
Just the Merge Cube, and when playing the game – amazing isn’t it?

If the ball falls out of the path you need to start all over again from the last checkpoint. Here you also have walls that prevent the ball from falling into the water or lave, but the exists on at a certain part of the level and not throughout. This means that the gameplay requires a great degree of fine balancing and very measured movement.

Here is a gameplay video, enjoy.

Game’s Difficulty & Physics

Protruding towers in the game Tiltball
I love the protruding 3D towers, it’s the perfect fit for this type of AR experience.

You probably think that it’s just too hard to balance a ball in this tiny area and you are right. With regular physics of a metal ball, it would have been almost impossible. The developer tackled that in two ways. First of all, the physic sis of a heavy boulder, not a light metal ball like in the classic tilt ball games. This means that even if you make a relatively sharp move, the ball won’t accelerate and fly out of the path. This helps to balance the game so it won’t be so hard to balance the ball. Even when the ball moves from one facet to the other, it moves like it is on a flat surface, it’s not accelerating like it’s a free fall. Of course, you need to quickly balance the ball so it won’t go down fast on the path. Even if you turn the cube fast, the ball won’t speed up its move. The physics is nailed perfectly, allowing the game to be fun while still providing that same excitement that you get in a standard tilt ball game.

The second thing is that in case the Merge Cube software loses tracking of the ball, the game pauses and the time stops running. It happened to me several times during the game. It’s nice that the developer covered all those important corners to make sure player will enjoy a smooth and fun experience. With bad design, this game could easily become exactly the opposite.

The game is not easy, but not too hard either. It actually took me about half an hour getting used to playing this type of game on the Merge Cube. In fact, after you finish the game (there are only 3 levels), you can see the time it took you to finish the last level and the 3 top leaders that have the fastest time. So although there are only three levels, this game was built to appeal to speedrunners so it seems. After you finish the third round, you start it from the beginning.

I have to admit that I was disappointed with the amount of content. I mean, why such a beautiful and fun game is over so fast? Why there aren’t more levels? It’s a bit frustrating.

Usability Issue

Cat looking at an AR game on Merge Cube
Even my cat is fascinated by the magic powers of the Merge Cube 🙂

I find it a bit confusing balancing the Merge Cube as I watch it on my iPad.  I enjoyed being able to finally play a Merge Cube game that I can use with two hands but encountered a usability issue while playing it.

The problem happens because of the limited field of view of the iPad’s camera and my inability to look up over the cube to get a better sense of depth and be able to locate the ball as it moves towards the far edge of the facet of the cube.

Two solve this issue, I’ve found out that I probably wasn’t playing it the way it was meant to be played. Sometimes I just didn’t rotate the Merge Cube and balanced the ball from the same angle I started it. I’ve already mentioned you that this game has forgiving physics and this was designed for a purpose, to allow users to enjoy rotating the cube as they play, even when the ball is moving in the same facet. In fact, I wouldn’t able to finish the third level had I played without rotating the cube several times during the last part of the level.

Tiltball end screen after finishing the third level.
Tiltball end screen after finishing the third level.

So although there is an issue playing the game in AR mode in a certain way, once you play it as it was designed to be played, you won’t encounter that issue. This is actually an important tip of how to play Tiltball, so just keep that in mind.

Now the usability issue isn’t gone, it’s still there, but the developer needs to develop the game so the user won’t encounter it during gameplay. It’s important to note that I didn’t try the VR mode, but I guess this isn’t a problem in the VR as the player can move the Cube close to his body take a look at the top part of the cube.

By the way, my main problem with the game wasn’t with the game itself. I played the game with my two hands. The problem was that after playing like 30 minutes, my elbows started to hurt a bit. Maybe next time I would put something soft on the table when I play the game again.

Overall, I am very pleased with how the gameplay turned out to be.

Graphics

Tiltball is a beautiful game. I think its icon in the App Store doesn’t do it justice. It’s Definitely the best looking game I’ve played so far on the Merge Cube with colorful and vibrant visuals, nice protruding 3D objects that looks so nice on the Merge Cube.

Furthermore, each level looks completely different than the other, you move from a beautiful blue sea area to an arctic theme and then a stunning lava theme. All that beauty is accompanied by a fantastic horror music that helps create a suspension and help to make the game more exciting to play.

Conclusion

Tiltball turned out to be much shorter than I expected, but this game is a perfect fit for the Merge Cube. My main problem with the game is that I couldn’t replay levels that I’ve already finish, only to start from the beginning which is kind of irritating.  I also want to see more levels in upcoming updates. I already see people finishing this game in like 10 minutes or less if they are good in this game, and trust me, it is a problem.

The other problem is that the global leaderboard has only thee placements, why? Just think how frustrating it is being in the fourth place and not showing up. If the developer already decided on three levels, at least make a long leaderboard so people will be more motivated to compete with other people who are going to finish each level faster. Honestly, I would even measure the time with a hundredth of a second to make it more competitive.

It’s definitely the most fun I had on the Merge Cube so far, but there is not much to it after you finish the three levels. I was frustrated being to finally finish the third level only to find out that it’s the last one. The game was released 5 months ago and therefore I found it hard to believe that we are going to see more levels coming out in the future. So I accept it as it is, a very short but immensely entertaining Augmented Reality game.  Furthermore, the game is free-to-play, so I definitely recommend everyone who owns a Merge Cube to download and play it.

Download Tiltball from the App Store here.

Buy the Merge Cube from Amazon.com here.

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