On the Ball

“Hello, hello (¡Hola!)
I’m at a place called ‘Vertigo’ (¿Dónde está?)
It’s everything I wish I didn’t know
Except you give me something I can feee-lll!
Feeee-EEE-llll!”

~ Bono

On the Ball is the recipe for vertigo. There are scant few videogames on God’s green Earth that make me sicker than this one. There’s the obvious case of Mode 7-sickness in NHL Stanley Cup which I’ve already touched upon; there’s indie darling Tag, which has one running up walls and under ceilings like Peter Parker on pills; and then there’s Gears of War. There are two very important differences between On the Ball and Gears of War: one is that Gears of War is actually good; the other is that Gears of War makes me sick after five hours of continuous play – On the Ball by contrast, makes me sick immediately.

BLURGGGHhhh!!!
Three buckets* of vomit were expelled before the taking of this screenshot.
* 4 Litre ice cream containers.

(I am of course referring to sickness in the motion sickness sense; the kind that you feel in the pit of your stomach, otherwise I would have brought up the obvious example of watching my own head get sawn off slowly and deliberately by a paper-bagged zombie with a chainsaw before watching blood spray forth from my neck hole and my lifeless body slump to the floor in Resident Evil 4. The on-screen message that follows declaring “You Are Dead” is banging you over the head with it, really, if you even had a head to be banged over with anymore.)

Exhibit A:

On the Ball is like one of those tilt-ball contraptions that fit in the palm of your hand. Whereas most developers deem the tilt-ball simulator to be mere mini-game material, these savvy fellows saw fit to make a full-priced game of it. One would be forgiven, then, for expecting that these boys were all over this whole tilt-ball ‘thing’; and would deliver one of the most finely-crafted tilt-ball simulations ever committed to cartridge. One would be forgiven, but ultimately, be wrong.

The title is about all they got right: "On the Ball" sucks some serious nut.

The ball doesn’t roll like a ball ought to, nor does the level ’tilt’ so much as it turns on a dime. The ball simply drifts downwards as the level rotates around it. I can think of at least two examples of this done ‘right’, or at least better, than it is in On the Ball, neither of which comprise the entire experience they appear in. One is the special stage from Sonic the Hedgehog (which has been sorely missing from Sonic games since Sonic & Knuckles, and which will hopefully make a triumphant return in Sonic 4), and the other is the tilt-ball mini-game from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (which admittedly, gets really old really fast).

The only foreseeable benefit of playing this game would be if you had accidentally swallowed poison, or overdosed on drugs, and consequently needed to purge the contents of your stomach immediately.

Otherwise, if you’ve never been sick from a videogame, please, please, PLEASE don’t let this be your first!

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