Ballz: Series Review


Michael Aeschbacher, Website Editor

Many people love to play mobile games for their addictive, time-killing nature. Established publisher Ketchapp seems to consistently nail this principle; their impressive catalog of games includes popular titles such as StackJelly Jump, and 2048. All of these titles keep their mechanics and presentation simple, but keep players coming back time and time again. One of their most successful releases, Ballz, was no exception to this rule, and it garnered enough attention when it initially launched to warrant several sequels. So today I’ll be taking a look at all of the games in the Ballz series.



For me, it doesn’t get any better than the series’s original. The concept is simple: launch a string of balls towards numbered blocks that descend with each turn. The numbers on the blocks denote how many hits are required to destroy them, and picking up a white orb will add one ball to your string. It’s not hard to pick up, but challenging to master; you’ll need both skill and strategy to line up the most efficient shots. The app has many small nuances that make it so great. You can pick up from where you left off after closing the app. There’s no need to worry about time limits, making it laid back and easy to enjoy. And the turn-based system means it works for both short and long periods of time. Outside of the gameplay, yellow coins can be collected to unlock ball colors. They’re rather meager as unlockables, but are a neat addition. Overall, Ballz works fantastically as a mobile game. It’s stayed on my iPhone from the beginning; if you want to give these games a shot, start here.

Falling Ballz:

This entry is the most similar to the original Ballz, but it (quite literally) turns the formula upside-down. Many of the original principles are still intact: launch balls at shapes to destroy them before they reach the end. They’ll disappear once hit as many times as their number displayed, and touching white orbs will net you extra balls. However, the shapes rise towards the ceiling this time, and you launch balls towards the floor. This makes the game feel like a Japanese pachinko machine in practice. The collectible system gets a nice upgrade; unlockables are far more creative, and balls will physically bounce off of the money-making diamonds, adding more strategy. Ultimately, Falling Ballz can feel a little bit too similar to its predecessor, but it’s still very worthy of your time.



Color Ballz:

This entry in the Ballz series is easily the weakest. The gameplay takes a pretty drastic shift; a machine now continually spits out balls from the left. Your task is to move a paddle back and forth to bounce them back into the machine on the right. This is one of the game’s main problems; it’s simple like the others, but not very fun. Compared to lining up shots, moving a basket back and forth simply feels like a chore. The power-up system (balls can be upgraded by touching randomly appearing objects) does little to spruce up the gameplay. Its second major flaw is that you need to constantly be moving the paddle. It only takes a single game for it to actually wear on your fingers. Plus, as you mess up more and more, the paddle shrinks, making losing feel more arbitrary than your own fault. The collectibles do little to save the game either. Steer clear of this one.



Ballz Shooter:

Ballz Shooter, like Falling Ballz, is one of the more similar entries to the original Ballz. The formula returns back to shooting falling blocks with a growing chain of balls. However, the changes it makes are significant enough to let it stand out as a unique entry. Instead of aiming with your finger, a cannon on the bottom aims back and forth, so you must carefully time your shots in order to get them where you want. Mastering this is definitely a challenge, but the cannon’s motion strikes the perfect balance between fast and slow to be fun. The blocks slowly descend, so it feels fair and never frustrating. Interesting power-ups, like the ability to freeze time, help add to the game’s uniqueness. There’s also the return of creative unlockable designs; the generic white balls can be substituted with hearts, cyan crescents, or even oranges. I may still prefer the original, but this is definitely a great entry in the series.


Fuze Ballz:

As the only Ballz title to go 3D, Fuze Ballz stands out as the black sheep game in the series. In addition to the shift in presentation, the gameplay changes drastically as well. You are now presented with a table of colored balls, and must shoot your own supply to make balls of the same color collide. Doing this will make them combine and grow until they split up again, giving you some balls back. Once you run out of balls to shoot, you lose. It’s pretty fun and nuanced thanks to how the balls bounce around. You can try to use non-matching balls to knock matching ones together, or even get in a good shot before the balls stop rolling and it is blocked. The game occasionally adds grey balls into the mix, which destroy balls but don’t give any back. The catch is that you must shoot them yourself, adding a clever damage-control mechanic. Unlockables are still present, and the designs are still creative here. Overall, it’s a great, unique entry; give it a try.



All of these games are available for free on compatible iOS and Android devices. They were reviewed in their current versions at the time of this writing; past versions may differ, and future versions may be subject to change.