The king is dead, long live the king. Angry Birds is number one no more on the the iTunes app store (at the time of writing). Its successor is a humble game called Bubble Ball written by 14 year old Robert Nay. The game and the fact that a fourteen year old wrote it have taken the Internet by storm. Articles about this coup appear on major news sites and every tech blog worth its salt.
But is Bubble Ball a better game than Angry Birds or does the hype about a youthful programmer producing a 'not bad' game play a role. I decided to find out and downloaded Bubble Ball. Less than an hour later I had completed the game and decided it was fun but no where near as much fun as Angry Birds. And I am comparing like to like because I never played the full version of Angry Birds so I am comparing Bubble Ball, which is a free game to the free demo version of Angry Birds.
Bubble Ball is a game where you are given certain objects that you can use to guide a ball from one point on the screen to a finish flag while gravity acts on the ball. The objects include ramps, planks and blocks but also arrows that launch the ball left or right or gravity reversers and slow down objects. There is no denying the ingenuity involved in the creation of the levels.
It is not a tough game however. Angry Birds had me scratching my head many a time and the added incentive to finish a level at three stars instead of just one kept me launching those feathered menaces much longer than I had expected to. In Bubble Ball there is no such incentive. Finish the level and that's it. You can however add your own rules if you wish and decide you want to finish the level with as little objects as possible. This adds a little difficulty but no rewards are given for this other than your own satisfaction. In the end I scorched through the game and was glad it was a free one. Mind you, it did make me smile in a self congratulatory way a couple of times but the game is just too short and too easy.
So, do I think it remarkable that a fourteen year old could have programmed it? Yes, definitely. And if he keeps at this we will see great stuff from him I am sure. Do I think Angry Birds should have been dethroned by Bubble Ball? No, not in any way.
I am convinced that the 'young prodigy' hype did help the game and although one part of me does not begrudge the lad his fame, another part of me fears the attention overload. I hope he will manage to keep both feet firmly on the ground and keep at it. If he does, great games will spring from that mind I am sure.