As I watched a dozen small white balls zig and zag around my phone's screen, shattering a maze of bricks, the grin on my face grew greater, and I felt the joy of a great smartphone game. It's called Holedown, and it's more than worth its $3.99 price (Google Play, iOS).
Part Peggle, part Tetris, and completely addictive, Holedown nails that mix of hypnotic and fun of the best smartphone games. Dubbed "A Ball Bouncer With Depth," Holedown presents you with the mission of digging to the center of a planet, in the form of a series of blocks that are harder and harder to break.
On the side of each of those blocks, you'll see the number of shots needed to break the brick, which will help you organize your plan of attack.
Your goal is to obliterate all of the blocks. But you need to pay extra care to those closest to the top, as your mission comes to a crashing halt if the blocks cross a thin laser line at the top of the screen.
As you proceed through the levels, you'll accrue a series of red crystals, which are exchanged for arsenal upgrades. Those include having more balls in each shot, getting more shots per round and being able to capture more crystals during each attempt. One tip: If you break blocks that sit adjacent to solid (not speckled) blocks above it, you'll erase all of the connecting shapes.
Part Peggle, part Tetris, and completely addictive, Holedown nails the hypnotic fun of the best smartphone games.
If you're wondering how this all makes sense, know that Holedown is light on story, with each of its five levels representing different planets that you're mining with the balls you're firing. Also, each of its balls is actually sentient, as you'll see a tiny, adorable face on each ball as it ricochets around the level.
The game works for so many reasons, which start with the simple-to-learn gameplay that gets increasingly difficult over time. Once you figure out the physics of the game's bricks, you'll figure out the best angles to shoot at, and be able to create the most hits in a single shot.
Holedown has five levels,each with increasing difficulty, and that means there's a finite end-point of the game. In the six days I've had with Holedown, I've finished three levels, and I'm not afraid of finishing the game if it ends soon.
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Some people complain about games not lasting long enough to provide enough return on their investment, but Holedown's chaotic gameplay has provided me with more elation than any game in a while.
If you find yourself wanting more after finishing Holedown, check out Twofold inc. and Rymdkapsel, the other games from Grapefrukt, the Swedish developer behind Holedown. They're a bit more complicated, but still fun as heck.
Credit: Tom's Guide