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Video Game / Ballance

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Merrily we roll along...
Ballance is a relaxing action/puzzle Mad Marble Maze computer game for Windows, where you control a ball, trying to get it to the exit across 12 levels which are ensembles of wooden platforms, metal rails and wooden gutters. Of course, since your "hero" is a ball, you don't walk, but rather roll around - and you better watch out for inertia, as the levels are built with No OSHA Compliance and you can easily slip and fall into the colorful void around. There are a lot of puzzles to solve by figuring out the right directions for your ball to take.

Physics play an important role in the game: by running into special "material changers", your ball can assume one of three different materials, each of them having a different weight:

  • Paper: Being the lightest has its privileges - you can zoom easily across pits, make use of floor fans, and climb steep slopes - but your journey will be brutally interrupted when you come across any sort of obstacle, since you won't be able to push it out of the way. Its rough composition also makes it slower than the other two ball materials.
  • Wood: The average ball. It can negotiate its way up most slopes and push some obstacles out of the way, but it still cannot do some things.
  • Stone: The heaviest one. Due to its weight, some gaps and slopes are impassable for it - but it can push heavy objects such as bridges, switches, or other stone balls.

This game shows examples of:

  • Antepiece: The game makes extensive use of this to teach you skills you'll need in later levels.
    • Using rails placed on their side. They first appear in Level 3 with a Wood & Paper Transformer over a platform. Failing has no consequence besides falling back onto the transformer platform, and you can learn that trying to use them as a Stone Ball doesn't work because of its weight.
    • Balancing on convex surfaces is first taught in Level 2, where an optional Life Extra and Point Extra can be obtained if you do this. Then you do it again in Level 4, but this time it's mandatory, but you can do it more easily as a Wooden Ball, and the segment is short. Then you do it yet again in Level 6 for quite a bit longer, but this time easily as a Paper Ball. Finally, it all comes up one last time at the end of Level 12, where you must balance carefully across a long series of convex wood surfaces... as a Stone Ball.
  • Bottomless Pit: Exaggerated Trope—every level is more bottomless void than actual terrain. The main challenge is not falling off the course into it.
  • Broken Bridge: Literal example, trying to cross a wooden drawbridge as a stone ball goes about as well as you'd expect. You actually have to invoke this at the end of Level 6 to advance.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Earth appears in the background of Levels 6, 9, & 11. Mars appears in Level 10.
  • Crate Expectations: Occasionally, you come upon crates scattered around, and might need to push them out of the way before proceeding.
  • Extra Life: Takes the form of a metal marble encased in a bubble.
  • Floating Platforms: Many of the platforms are floating in mid-air, but not all. Some are set up on incredibly long poles that seem to reach down hundreds of kilometres onto the planet in the void below.
  • Flying Saucer: Pops up in the ending.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The game doesn't have any plot at all, not even in the manual. You're just a ball in a maze trying to get to the end.
  • Portmantitle: "Ball" + "Balance"
  • Super-Toughness: The ball itself is completely indestructible, no matter what material it's made out of. Other balls or crates hitting it won't lay a scratch on it, and the stone cubes that some wooden boxes hold can't crush it. The only way to lose a life is to fall off the course.
  • Sequence Breaking: It's possible to skip some puzzles or even entire level chunks with the right combination of momentum and ball physics.
  • Vent Physics: The paper ball can be propelled upwards by fans.