What you’re about to read doesn’t really constitute a review. For it to be a review, we would have had to play all forty of the game’s levels. But we didn’t do that. What’s written below is less a review, and more a Public Service Announcement.
That’s because Joy Ball Adventure is, unfortunately, broken. It’s not broken in a wholesale manner, blocking you from getting any enjoyment at all out of it: it’s broken in the sense that there’s a single level that cannot be completed. Since the forty levels that are packaged here are linear, that one uncompletable level is a dealbreaker. Once you hit level fourteen, that’s it: Joy Ball Adventure is over.
The level in question has an invisible block (or visible: we can just about see something clipping through a wall) which sits, unfortunately, between the main character and a platform. Since the block is in a narrow corridor, you can’t progress. There’s no way to cheese past it, and you can’t skip it by choosing a future level. So, thirteen levels is what you’re getting for your £3.29 (reduced to £1.69 for the launch period).
It’s a shame, because Joy Ball Adventure showed a lot of potential up to that point. Joy Ball Adventure is astonishingly similar in name and gameplay to last year’s Kid Ball Adventure, which we’ll assume was done in good faith. It uses similar mechanics to good effect. You are a bouncing ball, but that bounce is automatic. Leave the pad alone on the table, and Joy Ball will bounce away.
All you can do is direct that bounce, using it to navigate the level and avoid any spike traps that might be in the way. Steps become a case of waiting for the apex of the jump and jabbing left or right to move over to the next step. One-time platforms are all about landing your jump and then moving on, lest you fall into spikes below. And springboards are great when you need to reach somewhere high, but not so great when spikes are covering the ceiling.
The thirteen levels all put the mechanic to decent use. There’s nothing here that is particularly beyond Kid Ball Adventure, or Dadish 3 for that matter, which used a similar mechanic, but there’s a gentle joy in using the trajectory of each bounce to best complete a level. Gamella Studios have good fun creating gaps that are just big enough to bounce across, so you have to time those arcs to perfection.
Of course, we didn’t even play the first half of the game, so it’s hard to make a judgment on difficulty or longevity. Even though there are a few testing jumps, there is nothing here that will keep you awake at night. Surely that was to come from levels fifteen onwards. Going by the first levels, however, the whole shebang wasn’t going to last long: we got to level fourteen in the space of roughly fifteen minutes.
Which leads us to the awkward moment at the end of the review. We felt, in all earnestness, that readers deserved to know that Joy Ball Adventure is broken. But this is a review, and reviews demand a score. We could slap a number on it, but that number wouldn’t – couldn’t – be high. What happens if Gamella Studios fixed the blighted Level 14? Is it fair that a terrible score remains? Equally, we could simply not apply a score, which feels safe but also stops short of really being a review, and would mean the PSA doesn’t get seen by people who might buy it.
So, we’re going to hand it a score, and re-review if things get fixed. These no-achievement, cheapo games don’t often get updated, so we’re not holding our breath, but we will do our due diligence and check in on it, once in a while. If something substantial has changed, then back we will come to a review.
With all that in mind, we have to implore you not to buy Joy Ball Adventure. It’s unfinishable, bugged to the point of impassibility on Level 14. What little we played was good, particularly for that low price, but you can experience an actual, working version of it by buying Kid Ball Adventure instead. It has the novelty of actually being playable.
You can buy Joy Ball Adventure from the Xbox Store
- Levels 1 to 13 are laid back and rather fun
- Simple and fun bouncing gameplay
- Level 14 is broken and blocks progression
- Kid Ball Adventure, is the wiser purchase
- Lacks long-term play
- No achievements
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Purchased by TXH
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 3 January 2023
- Launch price from - £3.29