I was waiting to play an AR game like JumpBall.io for such a long time. It’s important to mention that this is a standard game, that comes with an AR mode. In this review, I will talk about the AR mode, but also mention all the other features, which are important to know as well if you are considering playing this game.
What is JumpBall.io?
JumpBall.io as an addictive and super fun real-time online multiplayer Battle Royale game. The game has several games modes: Online, Offline (vs AI with unlockable difficulties), vs friends (create a room and invite friends with a code) and AR Party (the AR mode). Now, the other modes including the vs Friends are played in Normal non-AR mode, just so you know.
I tried running JumpBall.io on my iPhone 5S and it says that the AR requires iOS 11.0 (which is installed) and iPhone 6s or later. So keep in mind that you’ll need an ARKit-compatible device to use the AR feature of this game.
You play a cute one-eyed ball character. Each match lasts 3 minutes. Ths goal of the game is to collect beans which are spread throughout the arena to become bigger and eventually to become the biggest ball in the arena at the end of the round. The player biggest player in the arena wins the match.
The game has two controls. A left joystick to maneuver the ball freely around the arena and a right jump button to jump up. The longer you hold the jump button, the higher the jump.
You have several ways to create beans, either by jumping and changing the colors of the lanes around you using your color or by knocking back other balls that stand in the same lane of the impact. Hitting a player grants a large chunk of his beans and therefore you can grow larger faster as your enemy shrinks. Furthermore, once enemies get hit they are pushed back. You can use this as a tactical move to push other balls off the arena boundaries. If you fall out of the arena you lose your progression and need to start from the beginning.
Let’s check out some gameplay so you can better understand how the game plays.
I’ve played the game many hours. This is a very tactical game. It’s very important to play with the timing of the jump. For example, when you see a player jumps up in the lane where he can hit you, you can quickly maneuver out by moving a tile aside. You can also jump after the other player jumps. If you are in the air, you won’t get hit when the other player lands on the ground. What you can do is jump the moment you see your opponent jumps and land after he lands on the floor. The game requires smart tactical thinking, and this what makes it such a fascinating, challenging and fun game.
The player that has the largest number of beans has a crown on his head. He is also the most vulnerable one, as he is easier to spot. There is also an arrow that actually shows you its location if he is out of your field of view. Second, it’s harder for the big player to see where the tiny balls are because of two reasons: you don’t have an arrow that indicates where they are, second, the camera is positioned further above the arena, so the other balls appear smaller. This is a nice way to balance the game, so the one with the crown won’t become overpowered, exactly the opposite, they become easier targets.
It’s also important to mention that the higher your jump, the bigger the radius of the impact. Players can move faster when they move on tiles of the same color as their ball. The speed will be reduced significantly when you stand on tiles that don’t match your color.
One last word about multiplayer. If you want to play with friends, all you have to do is create a room. Once you do that, you’ll get a shortcode. Share this code with any of your friends that you want to join and play with you. You are the owner of the room, once you start the game, it will start automatically for the players you’ve invited. Anyone in the lobby has the option to share a link to that lobby to a friend. Once the user clicks on it, he can join in without typing the code. Other than this, just so you know that you can invite up to 15 players to join the room. Once the game is started, if the room isn’t full, it will be filled up with other online unknown players.
I want to address something that I’ve read in one of the comments. Somebody said that it’s annoying that you can quickly lose the first place. I personally think this is great. I like short session games because it’s a casual game that I can play on my free time without needing to spend half an hour on each session. But the most important thing is because it’s easy to obtain first place again, this requires smart tactics to prevent you from losing the first place, and second, it motivates the players that just lost all their beans to go back and try to take the crown back. It’s exciting knowing that there are many possibilities to turn the game in your favor in 3 minutes, this actually what makes the game so exciting to play. You don’t lose hope and you don’t quit because you see someone else holding the crown, you know you have an option to win even if there are only a few seconds left.
Progression and Reward System
Not that the game is super addicting and fun to play, it’s very rewarding as well. You have coins and diamonds which are the in-game currency and can be used to purchase chests that grant items. I will talk about items in a moment.
When you finish an online game you’ll receive a star, no matter if you win or lose. Top 3 players get a gold star, ranking 4-8 will earn you a silver star and the left take the bronze. Set up 3 stars into the prize chest to open it and earn rewards. Earning better stars will allow you to achieve a higher level chest and therefore better rewards. Keep in mind that you can’t a gold star from the beginner and normal AI mode.
Regarding items. When you start a game you have the option to shoot a buff, a potion. Those potions can be obtained by opening chests. For example:
- Strawberry potion – The opponent will lose 10% extra beans if he or she is attacked by you
- Pineapple potion – Respawn at level 2 (bigger)
- Royal Blue – Gain 10% extra speed on your territory (same color tiles as you)
- Chartreuse – Gain 20% extra speed on enemy’s territory
- Amethyse – You will lose 10% fewer beans if you are under attack
- Sky – Gain 20% extra speed on your territory
- Cyan – Gain 20% extra speed on all territories (now, that’s useful!)
- Tangerine – Gain 10% extra bean bonus on self-territory
- Bubblegum – The opponent will lose 30% extra beans if he or she is attacked by you
There are also “Tiles”, which is like a Banner for your ball avatar, but will also are visible for the tiles that you create during the game.You can purchase them with coins, some can only be found in chests. When you start the game you can see a big avatar on the left side of the screen.
The last option is Skins which can be bought with gold coins or found in chests. The skin will appear on your avatar when in the home screen and when you play the game.
I think this is plenty of options to keep players coming back for more and try to push for many wins.
Now, there isn’t any global leaderboard or ranked mode. I played as a guest first, so I thought if I log in to my Facebook account maybe I can see it, but nope. It would be nice to have a global leaderboard to encourage people to strive to become better.
Graphics and Level Design
The game excels big time in terms of visuals. First of all, I really liked the one-eye ball’s design, it looks so amazingly cute. The game graphics are very simplistic but this is the beautify of it. The focus here is not on sparkling visuals, but on simple and clear visuals that help to achieve the game’s objectives. Its beauty comes with the changes in colors when the users change the tiles to their colors in real time.
Second, when you start the game, the arena carries a certain painting made of colorful tiles. Even the intro when the game jumps into the game was made so well. You can see yourself diving from above onto the surface while enjoying looking at the nice tiled art. This tiles art will obviously be ruined in a short time once players start coloring it with their colors. Each time you start a new game you get a different tiles art.
I wish there was an option to play all the other mode in AR. The AR mode worked really well. It felt good seeing other players playing with me on the table of the living room. JumpBall.io can be played anywhere. I’ve played it on the outer area of the window which is tiny, on the bed and on the small table in the living room without any problems.
The AR mode also matches you and your pals nearby. I didn’t have the option to check whether I can play with a local friend in AR because I don’t have a second device that is compatible with the AR feature of JumpBall.io.
The AR is a side feature here. I did enjoy playing both the non-AR and AR modes, both are equally fun. If I had to choose the one that I enjoyed most, I will go with AR. Come on, don’t say that I am totally biased because I have an AR blog, it really felt more exciting playing it in AR.
I also think that the game design works well for AR as it takes great use of the limited AR gameplay space using verticality to help create a tactical gameplay, and also produce an enjoyable visual AR experience as it doesn’t just take place flat on the surface.
Although not an AR-only game, JumpBall.io turned out to be a superb game. It’s so easy to learn, the controls are so simple, but it’s one of those games that are easy to learn but hard to master. To become good in this game you need to practice and learn tactics to gain the upper hand during the match. It’s very important to also learn to read the other player’s move and react to it with a proper jump or move, it’s a very smart game design.
It’s so much fun playing with so many players at the same time, especially in AR. I felt like I am hosting a networking party in my living room.
I think it’s important that a game like this won’t be entirely in AR. We need a larger player base, it’s a multiplayer game after all. Maybe in the future, the developer will extend the AR to other game modes.
This game has so much to offer: it’ssuper addictive and fun gameplay, has simple controls, has original and exciting gameplay mechanics, it promotes tactical gameplay, it feels rewarding, it has funny voice narration, has a progression system (for offline mode), you can invite players to play with you, it offers unlockable items, it has enjoyable music, the characters look cute and loveable, it offers game stat sharing and it’s available in several languages (important to appeal to a wider audience and build a larger player base). There are still things that I would like to see improved, but these are great features to start with. The social features work well and can further help the game to spread out and become more popular.
This game reminds me of Smash Tanks!, another fantastic competitive multiplayer arena game. I do hope that Smash Tanks! gets an online multiplayer soon. As I mentioned it in several reviews, we need more social multiplayer AR games. I also think that helps if the game also features a non-AR mode, to be able to reach a larger market to help increase the player base and help support the development of the game for the long run.
Overall, an intelligent, original and amazingly entertaining game with equally entertaining AR mode—Highly Recommended!
You can download JumpBall.io from the App Store here.