Home Reviews 3/5 Review Ballotron Coolbox Review

Ballotron Coolbox Review


I guess we’re calling it the Ballotron trilogy now. The most unlikely of series has reached its third iteration with Ballotron Coolbox, following Ballotron and Ballotron Oceans. Who knows where the Ballotron saga will take us next. 

Aside from coinciding with Christmas, this is a ‘Coolbox’ because the blocks are decidedly icy. Rather than the gooey, bouncy blocks of Ballotron Oceans, we’re getting blocks that shatter when touched. It’s a subtle alteration to the physics of Ballotron: instead of your balls’ movements being muffled when you hit these cubes, your ball ploughs through at speed, sending fragments about the level like shrapnel. That shrapnel can still get in the way, dinking your balls in different directions, making Ballotron Coolbox a subtle spin-off from the original games. 

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It’s Ballotron, with ice.

For the uninitiated, Ballotron is a puzzle game that plays a bit like pool or snooker if you squint. You have a large blue ball and a large green ball, and the level is won if they knock into each other. But that’s not an easy task, as you can’t control either of those two balls. Instead, you have agency over some other, tinier blue balls in the level. These can be pulled back in the pool-cue fashion that we mentioned. The further you pull back, the harder they are flung. Aim the small balls at the large balls, and – hopefully – a series of ricochets sends the balls into blocks and then eventually into each other. 

It’s a simple premise that has a base appeal to it. There’s often a path of least resistance towards the large, green ball. For example, perhaps there are walls, angled at 45 degrees, that you need to bounce into to reach the final ball. We’ve played enough crazy golf to know this old trick. One half of Ballotron Coolbox, then, is to figure out the best approach, and the second half is executing on it. Ballotron Coolbox neatly shows your previous shot as a dotted line, so you can adjust delicately next time. A millimetre or two to the left, and this time it will all work out.

Ballotron has always allowed two styles of play. There’s the approach for the meticulous planner, where you use the environment to your advantage, pulling off the perfect shot. Perhaps you even grab the gold coin (Ballotron Coolbox’s collectible) on the way. Then there’s the approach for the hit-and-hoper. You can just yank back the cue and fire your blue ball willy-nilly. With luck, the balls will careen around the screen and give each other a little kiss. 

Both approaches are viable, and it’s perfectly fine to resort to the second one once the first fails. It’s this duality that makes Ballotron Coolbox an appealing, chill experience. Even if your initial shot is pants, there is a very good chance that a chain reaction will cause your balls to meet regardless. It means that it’s very hard to get stuck, and levels can be completed without much thought at all.

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Blue ball needs to meet green ball – however possible.

There’s a flipside to that coin, of course. Ballotron, and Ballotron Coolbox in particular, is wedded to randomness. Often the best answer to a level is to leather the balls and see what happens, and that might be more ‘chaos theory’ than a lot of players would like. There are levels that require more structured thought to complete, but there are more that don’t. It doesn’t help that replicating a shot, positioning it exactly the same as the previous go, can often deliver completely different outcomes. 

If you’re a Ballotron fan, then there are some very, very minor differences between Ballotron Coolbox and the other games. The most immediately obvious is that Ballotron Coolbox has had a makeover. It feels less cheap, as if it’s slowly morphing into Peggle. The colours and outlines are thicker, the balls shinier and more tactile. It’s leveled up in the presentation department, which is nice. 

There are the ice blocks, as we’ve mentioned, while Ballotron Coolbox also loves a portal. These do what you’d predict, sending everything from one location to another once they pass through. Small balls, big balls, even blocks can be nudged through these holes. 

Puzzling with portals makes perfect sense. Portals are a regular addition to puzzle games. But we object to the ones used here, because they don’t abide by the simple rules we’re used to. Sometimes, the balls bounce out of the portals rather than passing through. We think it’s because some are one-way, but nothing in the game marks them as such. And the portals are inexplicably not colour-coded. If there’s more than one in the level, you have to do a spot of trial and error to find out which connects to which. And that’s lame, frankly. 

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You might start to find yourself with Ballotron boredom

Ice blocks, portals and a new lick of paint is not enough in our book. They’re all independently fine, but they don’t constitute a sequel. Ballotron Coolbox ends up feeling like vanilla DLC for the original game: DLC, we might add, that the original game didn’t need. We’re pushing one hundred-and-fifty levels of Ballotron in total, but they don’t distinguish enough from each other to warrant that number. So many of them boil down to the same layouts, the same solutions. 

We didn’t have a bad time playing Ballotron Coolbox. While it’s more of the same, it’s an unfussy ‘more of the same’, with levels that can be beaten by giving the cue ball a huge amount of welly and watching the ricochets. It’s one of the cheapest games you can find on the Xbox, too, at a miniscule £4.19. 

But if we’re going to get more of these Ballotron games, we’re going to need something more next time. Ice blocks and portals ain’t going to cut it. We’re getting the Ballotron boredom, and we most definitely wouldn’t advise playing more than one of them in a row.

TXH Score
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ballotron-coolbox-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Very, very cheap for what you get</li> <li>The simple thwacking mechanic is still fun</li> <li>A presentational glow-up is welcome</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Not enough ‘new’ to warrant a separate game</li> <li>Reliant on luck</li> <li>Only 1000G this time round (we’re sure 2000 is coming)</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 15 December 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>
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