After his bouncing conquest of the evil Terry Ball in Firebird's CRASH Smash I, Ball (Issue 39), the bulbous I, Ball is sent down deep mines to investigate the history of the Balls (a race of multicoloured, well, balls).
I, Ball jumps and bounces through this subterranean maze of antiquity. The flame-thrower he carries must stand him in good stead against the hordes of rotating blocks, spinning squares and descending cubes that seek to do our rotund hero down; I, Ball can earn clusters of points by destroying these geometrical muggers before they take his five lives.
There are 50 screens through which I, Ball must work his way - by finding a key in each screen and getting to the exit with it, within a time limit. And as he progresses I, Ball should gather valuable historic artefacts by bundling his globular form into them.
But each mine has its own peculiarities and characteristics, which I, Ball must discover and use to his advantage...
I, Ball can pick up extra lives, weapons and so on as he moves through this strange world; points are awarded for such kleptomania. Power Stones have the strangest of properties - they can boost power, slow opponents in a power warp, or increase a leap.
When this roly-poly explorer has advanced through five mines, he is treated to the sight of a priceless object, made in the youth of his race. And when I, Ball has gathered ten such objects his task is complete and he can once more be feted as a hero.
Joystick: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: well-drawn, well-animated cute characters
Sound: magnificent speech but weak tune
'I, Ball 2 is the most frustrating game I've ever played - the screen layout gives you minimum manoeuvrability! But the special FX are fantastic, with loads of speech, crumbling rocks, and masses of nasties. Colour is used extremely well, too, and the graphics are superbly well-defined. Considering that the idea of I, Ball 2 is so simple it's amazingly addictive and compelling.'
NICK ... 90%
'I, Ball 2 is a very playable leap-around-and-blast-everything-in-sight collect-'em-up. Graphically it's great, with a cheerful-looking little bouncing ball sproinging around nicely-drawn backdrops. There are plenty of nasties trying to stop him - and for many games they will succeed admirably...'
MARK ... 87%
'I, Ball 2 is a really excellent game. The graphics are smooth and fast, though they're not very exciting, and the gameplay is challenging and fun. The sound is superb: the title tune isn't exactly Mozart, but the in-game effects and the speech are really good, ranking next to the original I, Ball. This is a great game - and it's budget too!'
MIKE ... 93%
On the one hand, there's Agent X. On the other, I, Ball 2. What are we talking about? Music. Agent X's five channel 48K theme music (which really sounds as if it was composed for a film or something) is the smartest piece of sound on the Speccy. I, Ball 2's title track is the worst. A completely crap melody with odd 'drum', er, 'beats' thrown in at random, it's guaranteed to reduce passers-by to tears.
Luckily a quick stab at the fire button starts the game instead. (Phew.) Breaking with the tradition of sequels, it's substantially different to the scrolling original. Here, the ball with the I has to bounce around twenty single-screen levels, shooting things and finding valuably informative ball artefacts. Yup, basically, you play a rotund archaeologist with a gun.
'Insanely difficult' is the phrase that leaps to the lobes when describing I, Ball 2. To enjoy the game, firstly throw away the instructions. Secondly, adjust to the unnervingly random way you progress through the levels. (When you complete screen one, it doesn't necessarily follow you'll go on to screen two.) Then spend ages on a screen and get killed about six hundred times before you twig certain things only happen at certain times. For example, objects blocking passageways tend to explode at t minus seventy seconds (as those nice chaps at NASA have it). Next, take a course in muscular control. The game is awash with inertia, momentum and other gravitational features, and often urges you to bounce through through gaps that would tax an outrageously malnourished silverfish. But at least it's fair, in an unforgivingly harsh sort of way. This doesn't stop you from shouting juicier alternatives to the game's sampled 'Oh no!', but that's by-the-by. It's a game I'd pay good money for (actually I already have), but if you decide the same be prepared for some battering of heads against desks, both of these preferably being your own.
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