Bang-On Balls: Chronicles


Much more than just a load of balls!


Bang-On Balls: Chronicles is a hub-based 3D platform adventure that draws inspiration from all of the classics of the genre. From Mario to Banjo Kazooie, Ratchet & Clank, Spyro the Dragon and even Sonic and Crash Bandicoot, BOB:C takes cues from them all, but with its large free-roaming themed levels is an adventure with plenty of originality. This is mainly thanks to your character "Bob" being a ball–yes, a ball–in a land populated by balls. So at long last, after many years as a reviewer I can actually say "this game is a load of balls" without fear of reproach...

You move with the left stick, look with the right and jump & double-jump with 'A'. You dart to extend jumps (this is also your main attack) with a press of the 'R' trigger and roll around by holding a direction and the 'R' trigger. You can perform a splat attack when airborne with 'B' and shield (you collect various shields) with the 'L' trigger.' 'X' is "use item" and 'Y' is "interact." In co-op you can indicate a point of interest with 'Up' on the D-pad, whistle/fart with D-pad Left, zoom the view with D-pad Right and ‘Down’ is your inventory.

You can't help but admire the views!

After thoroughly experimenting with the controls, exploring, terrorising and smashing up the Bang-On Pictures Studios hub and its spherical inhabitants, the first world I entered (through a giant TV) was called Viking Invasion. You soon realise that almost everything in BOB:C is smashable, with many objects revealing green health orbs or blue currency. You're going to want to collect both and can suck up any loose health or currency by holding 'LB'. More locations are unlocked by finding more movie reels, which are sometimes hidden or difficult to reach. The other Chronicles are “Cold Race to Space”, “Kraken's Lost Coins" and “Time Trouble on Laiju Island”, and I'd like to give a particular mention for “Cold Race to Space", which has moments of genius, that if they had appeared in a Mario or Ratchet & Clank game would be talked about for years.

There are plenty of other things to find within the studio, like an Arcade complete with various sub-games like a chaotic game of football and an addictive Streetfighter 2-esque car-smashing game, oh, and a Zoo!

Behind my BoB is an Abominable SnowBoB, playing an accordion (as they do.)

BOB:C uses national stereotypes in amusing ways and they'll often be identified by national flags. Dynamic weather and a day/night cycle also feature and genuinely add a lot of atmosphere. I didn't realise what it was at first but you have a little customisable pet-thing that follows you around, which doesn't actually seem to do anything apart from trail around behind you making cute noises.

Things you have to do in BOB:C: Getting a makeover; Smashing things to pieces; admire the views and play co-op online...

Your personalised BoB is infinitely customisable thanks to the myriad hats, weapons and other bits and pieces you can find or unlock along the way. Certain weapons and other items have a ☆ on their selection screen and offer extra abilities–such as “Thor's Hammer” that electrocutes and stuns enemies and a jump-enhancing jet pack!

The split-screen co-op works surprisingly well considering the amount of mayhem you can cause.

Exploring the surprisingly vast levels you'll find "boost" buttons and ramps all over the place to aid your already impressive agility. There are also the typical platform adventure tropes like air or water jets to span large gaps with, and some will propel you hundreds of feet in the air!

Alien spaceships, Russian rockets, BIG bosses and don't forget to pose in front of a Polaroid camera to save your game!

I couldn't help feeling that the game would have benefitted from the inclusion of a map, but the levels are quite sprawling and complex, so it may just have overcomplicated what is a beautifully simple game that has a heck of a lot to see and explore. If you do get lost holding the 'View' button highlights objectives.

How can anyone think we didn't go to the moon when we have photographic proof like this?

According to the press release, Bang-On Balls: Chronicles can be played solo but also supports up to 4-player online co-op on all platforms, and 2-player split screen on PC, PlayStation and Xbox. Players on Nintendo Switch can use Local Wireless Multiplayer to have 2-player offline co-op. We can only talk from the Xbox standpoint, but the co-op works superbly, whether it's online or couch (split-screen) co-op. For us, some of the game's finest moments come when you figure out a puzzle or beat a boss with partners (we've played a good deal of 3 and 4-player on Xbox Live), and the free-roaming nature of the maps and multiple ways of approaching enemies and obstacles makes for a great parent/child co-op game, as well as an experienced 2, 3 or 4-player co-op "squad" game.

BOB:C is a madcap, bouncy adventure game with a ton of chaotic action, and at a price of only £20.99 could not be more highly recommended–even if it is just a load of balls.

Many thanks to Exit Plan, Untold TalesPlan Of Attack, Pirate PR and PressEngine for the review codes.