Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Beautiful, Frustrating Puzzle Physics

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 43 votes, average: 3.49 out of 5)

Obulis is the first PC release from IonFx, a longtime Pocket PC developer. It’s actually the third installment in the series, with the first two titles out on Windows Mobile. Obulis is a puzzle game in the truest, hardcore sense of the word. I hope you like thinking!

Simple Rules

The goal in Obulis is to get the colored balls to their matching pots. To do this, you need to manipulate their physical motion. You can only do this in one way, by cutting rope. You can snip any of the ropes in the game, which usually hold the balls up, but also act as a way to time the release of launchers. The controls allow you to select and destroy rope as separate actions, which helps with difficult timing (although, annoying, if you use right-click to cut a rope you still have to select it first–it should be one click).

Inelastic Physics

The physics engine in Obulis is wholly inelastic, which support many of the puzzle designs. When a ball rolls into another ball, it comes to a complete stop, with the second ball taking on all of its velocity. There is only so much potential energy in each level, so you’ll find yourself re-routing energy through multiple balls. Visualizing the total remaining energy will be key to solving the puzzles.

Cleverness, Timing

My big complaint with true puzzle games is the nature of complexity. In order for a puzzle game to become more difficult, the designer needs to do some really clever stuff. In my mind, the fun of the game should boil down to the player re-discovering the clever solution for themselves. But sometimes it just feels like the level designer is showcasing their cleverness without any consideration for the player. Personally I would enjoy more levels with open-ended setups, where I can fudge the solution (Armadillo Run does this fantastically). Obulis has a much tighter possibility space; most levels must be solved exactly as the designer intended.

The other complaint I have with Obulis is the nature of the timing involved to get the physics right. It’s very annoying to have a realization about what you’re supposed to do, and then have to beat your head against the wall to get the timing correct. Watch the end of the gameplay video for an example of this in action.

Obulis Screenshot Screenshot of a Physics Game
(Obulis Game Screenshots)

Puzzle Gamers Rejoice!

I’m willing to admit that I just don’t have the right state of mind to enjoy a puzzle game like Obulis. The production value is fantastic, and many of the levels are a joy to play, but it’s also an amazing frustration generator. If you have the stomach for that kind of thing, or feel some strange pressure to prove yourself to game designers, then Obulis is very definitely the game for you.

Download Obulis Demo (33.5 MB)

Or visit the Obulis website for more information. The full version costs $19.99 USD.

Related Posts:

5 Responses to 'Beautiful, Frustrating Puzzle Physics'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Beautiful, Frustrating Puzzle Physics'.

  1. DKO said,

    on June 23rd, 2008 at 6:44 am

    I always wonder what is on the designers’ minds when they create timing puzzles.

    It’s fundamental to always get feedback from players, and redesign the game until it’s funny. Tycho (PA) said it best: “I don’t want a game to punish me”. And Iwata himself told us Miyamoto’s secret is to keep working on the gameplay until a complete stranger is able to enjoy.

    Probably a simple feature like a checkpoint at every collision or something like that, so you can progress at smaller steps, would have saved the gameplay.

  2. Kokits said,

    on June 23rd, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I just tried the demo, the timing didn’t seem like such a big deal.

    It might have been that I onlygot to try the preview levels.

    Seems like a fun game, 20 bucks seems too high in my opinion.

  3. Kokits said,

    on June 24th, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Alright, so I’ve played the demo several times through, and I’m seriously considering getting this game. But I have one question: Does the game have some form of a level editor?

    It seems like $20 is too high for a game with no level editor.

  4. Keith said,

    on June 24th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    No level editor, but use iloveobulis as the coupon code to get it for 14.99.

  5. Kokits said,

    on June 24th, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Oooohhh… Nice.

    I will DEFINITELY be getting Obulis now with that $5 discount.

Leave a Reply