I first learned of Backflip studios when I originally bought my iPod Touch and downloaded their free game Paper Toss. Since then, I have become extremely familiar with all of their offerings, and I have been blown away not only by the quality of the games, but also by the originality of their concepts. This is not the kind of company that will develop a game which only subtly improves upon what came before it. Games like Ragdoll Blaster, Paper Toss, and others invent whole new styles or genres of gameplay. This total originality is one of the reasons that I love Backflip Studios so much.
One of my favorite games from Backflip Studios was Ragdoll Blaster (which my Dad introduced to me). The original game had a fun cartoony feel with line drawings for all of the monochromatic elements. Fast forward to March 2010, and BackFlip Studios finally releases their long anticipated follow up to Ragdoll Blaster (and even send me a copy to check out), Ragdoll Blaster 2…though it would have been more appropriate for this to have been the third installment in the Ragdoll series as it would have been more aptly named Ragdoll Blaster 3D.
If you ever played the original Ragdoll Blaster, then you already know what this one is all about. You control a cannon which is located somewhere on the screen. Tap the screen to adjust the angle of fire and power of the cannon. Rather than firing balls like a normal cannon, however, this cannon fires dolls…rag dolls to be specific. All you need to do is find a way to make one of those rag dolls find its way to the target. In the early levels, this task is almost as easy as it sounds, but don’t be fooled. These early levels are only the tutorial, designed to introduce you to all of the elements of the game. Once you get started, you will find a variety of obstacles, puzzles, and tricks, around which you must navigate your rag dolls in order to find the target. Heck, in some cases, you will even need to move your cannon in order to find the way to the target.
If the gameplay sounds pretty familiar to users of the original game, the look and feel of this one is going to seem unlike anything you have seen before. Unlike the original which relied on some pretty simplistic (albeit effective) graphics, the new rendition introduces an incredibly sophisticated 3D interface. This brings a whole new level to the game, complete with subtle animation (like the smoke coming from the back of the cannon) and even the movements of the dolls. But all of that is nothing compared to the sophisticated gravity effects in the space-based levels, such as the one in the above image. To say the least, the whole game just looks and feels incredible.
The improved animation is not all that is new, though. Ragdoll Blaster 2 is now part of the Plus+ Network, and includes dozens of in-game awards, as well as an online leaderboard. This is pretty cool, as it allows you to compare your progress with users from around the world. I will say, though, that I was annoyed by the fact that these awards and leaderboardswere only accessible online. There was no way to view your progress toward any awards without connecting to the Internet.
Since I use an iPod Touch, which is not always connected to the Internet, well, this can be a problematic issue. The nice thing about the Plus+Network, however, is that you can view awards and leader boards from all of your Plus+Network connected games all in one place.
The other improvement you will find in the new version of Ragdoll Blaster is the organization of the over 150 levels of gameplay. Rather than the simple list of levels, the new game organizes the levels into rooms of increasing difficulty, starting with the Tutorial. When you begin, most of the rooms will be locked. Complete enough rooms and you will unlock the next room. Complete all nine rooms (plus the tutorial) and you will be awarded the coveted King of the Ragdolls award.
I was absolutely blown away by the variation and creativity in some of these levels. Not only will you find the typical obstacles (blocks, sticks, walls, funny angles), but you will also find ice patches, pipes, teleportation, and even fun with gravity. Not to mention a few trips into outer space…and beyond.
As much as I enjoyed this game, though, I did think there was one thing missing. Ragdoll Blaster 2 is the kind of game which just cries out for the user community to design their own levels and rooms. I would love to see Backflip Studios publish the tools for users to design their own levels, and possibly even create a forum in which the community can share their home-brewed levels. That would really allow us to take this game far beyond the 150 or so levels which were included, and offer virtually unlimited enjoyment out of the game.
I had known for a few months that Backflip Studios was planning to release a follow up to their popular Ragdoll Blaster, but I have to say that the graphics and animation really far exceeded even my expectations. The game just looked and felt amazing. That being said, I did feel that gameplay through many of the levels was much easier than the original. It took until the seventh or eighth room for things to get really challenging. Still, even though the difficulty could have increased faster, the game never ceased to hold my attention. Each new level brought a range of new obstacles, puzzles, and challenges. Ragdoll Blaster was one of my favorite games on the iPod Touch, and this follow up launches the franchise into an entirely new level of gameplay.
Ragdoll Blaster is available from the iTunes App store for $2.99.
What I Liked:
- Amazing graphics
- Creative and original gameplay
- Myriad of obstacles and puzzles
What Needs improvement:
- The game difficulty remains too easy for too long
- A level developer would be incredible.