Red Ball 4 is a challenging physics game about a cartoon ball rolling through an idyllic world. The game combines platforming, problem-solving, and momentum in order to create an incredible experience that's simple to learn and difficult to master.
In Red Ball 4, you play as a red ball in a 2d platformer-style environment. The world is populated with ramps, hills, enemies, and platforms that you get to navigate as you progress towards the end of the level, Mario style. In most levels your goal is to roll from left to right, navigating your way past obstacles until you reach the end of the level.
Just like in classic platformers (like Mario), Red Ball features the ability to move left or right, the ability to jump, and not much else. You can defeat enemies by carefully jumping on them from a vulnerable angle, causing them to play a cute animation and disappear. There are also pickups in the form of stars and checkpoints that look like red flags that you can collect. Stars give you progress towards a bar that fills up as you complete the level, while checkpoints give you a safe place to respawn at if you fall off a ledge, drown in water, or suffer defeat at the hands of an enemy.
Red Ball 4 sets itself apart from the competition through its creative use of physics. As a ball, you conserve a huge amount of momentum as you roll around each level. Many puzzles require you to go back through the level to pick up speed before jumping over an obstacle or slamming into an object. Speaking of objects. the majority of the puzzles in Red Ball 4 utilize simple boxes, planks, and other basic things that are simply rendered faithfully in the game's physics engine. In order to get up tall ledges or traverse gaps, you'll have to use your ball to push these objects around into better positions and then use them as launchpads or bridges to get to your destination.
The cartoonish graphics of Red Ball 4 add to the game's charm. Levels are clear, brightly lit (for the most part), and are filled with simple objects that are easy to recognize. Both the ball and the enemies you face have cartoon faces that display emotions as they move through the levels. The ball is quite happy to roll, while most enemies have angry faces as they go about their business. Should you defeat an enemy (or be defeated), you'll see an expression of sadness, surprise, and regret on the face of the dying character. Sound design is similarly clear, cheerful, and fun, with well-chosen samples that accent the play experience without distracting from it.
Red Ball 4 isn't free, but it's fantastically inexpensive. If you'd like to try the game before you buy, you can point a web browser at one of several sites to play a flash-based version of the game. Red Ball 4 is actually a mobile port of several flash games put together (Red Ball 4 volume 1-4), all of which are available for free online. The mobile version puts all o these games together and adds touch controls and several new levels, giving you the complete Red Ball 4 experience for a low price.
Red Ball 4 is a game that combines platformer skills with physics-based puzzles. You'll need both to pass all of the obstacles in the game, with some challenges requiring a good amount of one or the other. In general, if you're having trouble beating a puzzle, try using more of the skill you're not utilizing. In other words, if you can't clear a gap on speed and timing alone, look for an object you can use to launch yourself higher or make the gap smaller. If you can't get high enough off of an object you've carefully moved into position, try building up momentum and timing your jumps more carefully and see if you can get closer to your goal. You need to build up a good amount of speed to complete a number of sections of the game, so don't be afraid to go way back for more rolling room.
The game's puzzles are usually quite simplistic in nature, meaning if you just interact with everything around an obstacle you'll probably succeed by brute force. The big caveat to the game's simplicity comes when you knock an object off of a cliff. If you push a box over an edge, you won't be able to retrieve it and put it in the right place to move up the next ledge or cross the next gap. Should you find yourself at a total impasse (or should you notice that you pushed something off an edge), it can be a good idea to hurl yourself off the edge as well. This will cause the level to reset and respawn any objects in their original position, giving you another chance to push the box or other object to the right place.
You can usually tell if you've missed something or dropped an object by observing the red ball's face. If the ball frowns or looks sad while you roll around, you probably need to reset the game to the most recent checkpoint in order to progress. Again, the fastest way to do this is usually to just jump off a cliff.
In all editions of Red Ball 4, hitting "jump" a second time shortly after leaving the ground will allow you to propel the red ball to much higher altitudes, enabling you to skip many puzzles and obstacles. This trick can be quite difficult on mobile phones, as the timing is very narrow and somewhat late, but it's definitely a thing you can do on older phones and phones that run the game more slowly. If you'd like the best chances of pulling off this speedrunning trick, you should try running Red Ball 4 on a mobile emulator like BlueStacks and limiting your framerate to 30 fps. This will give you a good chance of pulling off the trick while enabling the game to remain smooth and playable.
Are you a Red Ball 4 expert? What levels do you think are the hardest? Let us know your favorite puzzles in the comments below. We'd love to hear about any tips and tricks we missed!
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