Gaston No1 HD La Superballe — Review

A lot of the games in the App store have a niche appeal, today’s example being Gaston No1 HD — La Superballe on the iPad. Based on a Belgium comic character dating back to the mid-sixties, the market for this one is pretty narrow. How do you solve that? Add a good solid dose of the popular DoodleJump.

Gaston La Superballe plays essentially the same. Your character is constantly jumping, or bouncing in this case, and you have to guide him from platform to platform by tilting the iPad left or right. This game mixes in a few differences, so rather than just trying to get as high as possible, you try to pop as many balloons as you can along the way which gives you extra points. Unlike other games of this type, if you miss a platform you don’t die; you keep falling until you hit a cloud and you start bouncing up again. Rather than losing a life, the game is set against a timer which is constantly ticking down.

There are lots of power-ups along the way, like birds that will carry you along and a strange rainbow vortex that shoots you up even further. This makes things a bit more interesting, especially when you fall and hit one without realising it. There are also clocks which extend your timer, so it becomes quite a tense game at times, as you have to choose whether to go for a high scoring item or get more time so you can keep on playing.

There isn’t much more to the gameplay than that: The main goal in Gaston La Superballe is to get the highest score you possibly can, which makes the inclusion of online scoreboards a very welcome addition.

The game being on the iPad does raise a couple of issues though. It’s not something you can play with one hand and it doesn’t feel completely comfortable. It’s a strange combination of the size of the device and the game not being quite sensitive enough. It feels like there is a dead spot in the middle, so when you try to make small subtle movements it doesn’t quite pick it up. What’s more, the game has no option to change the sensitivity, so if you don’t like how it controls you’re pretty much stuck.

However, the advantage of being on the iPad is that the game looks a treat: The characters are simply animated, but have a lot of personality. The look and style of the game will be an acquired taste as well. The artwork has a very hand drawn scratchy style to it which may not be to everyone’s liking. If you grew up on Asterix books then you’ll probably be fine.

It has also been recently updated to include themes, including a Halloween one at that. The option is there for more to be added later and this would be a welcome way to extend the life of the game.

There is no other way around it though; DoodleJump is a better game. Whilst the idea of beating your high score makes Gaston La Superballe quite compulsive, it simply doesn’t have the tight controls of similar games. It does mix things up and gives a different spin on the idea, but it needs a bit more refining before it can really be recommended.

Three stars out of five
Reviewed 0n iPad
Originally published on 10th November 2010