Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Nuts About Physics: Switchball

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 161 votes, average: 4.08 out of 5)

Switchball is a new game by Atomic Elbow, creators of the IGF-nominated Crazyball. They bill it as a sequel (although Crazyball was never finished?) and describe it as:

Steer the Switchball past traps and puzzles in 20 increasingly challenging levels by morphing between balls with different properties and abilities. Use machines and elements like magnets, fans, cannons, fire, water and many more in a game that gives you the fun of oldschool platform gaming with ultra realistic physics and awesome 3D graphics!


The game falls into the roll-the-ball-to-the-goal genre with as many inventive physics contraptions as possible to get in your way. Switchball utilizes the Ageia physics engine, which means there are a lot of possibilities for innovative obstacles. Atomic Elbow promises 4 levels that will be exclusive to owners of the upcoming PhysX hardware, which is interesting. I’ve actually heard that Ageia licenses its technology for free to small developers who will support their hardware.

Gameplay in Switchball is a mix between skill-based maneuvering and thinking-based puzzles. Various pods throughout the level will change your ball’s physical attributes: to a super-heavy metal ball, lightweight ball, or electric ball and so on (as far as I know Ballance was the first game to use this material-changing theme). Getting through a level requires you change materials as needed to get by obstacles. A metal ball is too heavy to cross a wooden plank, for instance, but burly enough to push the preceding crates out of the way. Alternating materials several times is usually required to get by an area.

This review is based on a free 1-level alpha demo of Switchball that Atomic Elbow recently released. They warn that this isn’t indicative of the final quality of the game, but as far as I can tell everything is top-notch. The graphics and audio are both excellent. My one complaint is that the camera feels a little weak. I’m often manually controlling its orientation and zoom level to see where I need to go which can be annoying. Of course, in a game like this the camera is everything and it’s certainly a difficult development challenge. If they can polish up the camera movement Switchball will indeed be a very excellent game when it’s done.

Switchball Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Switchball Game Screenshots)

The game is available for download here or over at Atomic Elbow’s site. They are actively soliciting feedback for this release, so if you check it out and have some suggestions feel free to let them know.

Atomic Elbow’s Crazyball was nominated in the Independent Games Festival 2006 for the Technical Excellence award. They’ve kicked their craft up a notch since then with Switchball. Check out the free download of this great physics game!

Download the game here (43.2 MB).

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8 Responses to 'Nuts About Physics: Switchball'

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  1. on February 26th, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    […] BreakQuest (sometimes too slow, but a great lunchtime killer). Switchball Tower Defence (competes for lunchtime). […]

  2. Visitor said,

    on October 20th, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Is Neverball too similar to the “roll-the-ball-to-the-goal” genre to be reviewed? It’s different from this video in that you tilt the entire playing board to roll the ball around, instead of driving the ball like a car on a flat board. I’ve never seen a game like it, but maybe it’s passé for people who review games.

  3. Matthew said,

    on October 20th, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Looks very monkeyball-ish. I’ll add it to my queue, though, I’m always on the lookout for more games to review.

  4. extremejon said,

    on February 3rd, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Wow. This game is probbly the most beautiful looking thing my computer can play.

  5. Keah0 said,

    on April 27th, 2007 at 11:18 am

    This is like a free version of Ballance, but better.

  6. D said,

    on May 22nd, 2007 at 5:20 am

    The first game I know using the “material-changing theme” was morph

    bit it’s quite old ;)

  7. on July 2nd, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    […] Switchball, the physics-based marble platform game, has been commercially released! A trial version of the game is available from the official site, and the full version is available for $19.99. I previously reviewed the old one-level demo of the game. Look for an updated review soon! […]

  8. extremejon said,

    on July 8th, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Looks so good, I almost cried.

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