Bang-On Balls: Chronicles Is The Dogs Doodahs

Testes, testes, 1..2..3? Ball jokes aside, here's an update on Bang-on Balls: Chronicles, currently in Early Access, and a must-have for platform fans.

When I write an update on a game, it’s often because I’ve received a press release, it’s announced on some channels, or… I don’t know. It’s been a while since I played Bang-On Balls: Chronicles, but I recently had the opportunity to jump back in, and there’s been a lot of progress since.

Back in the year sumink-sumink, when I originally looked at this, I put it in the same class as Astro’s Playroom. Aside from the lack of haptics, that statement hasn’t aged. Not only is this so much fun to play, but it looks fantastic, too. Again, this really deserves to be on consoles, and now that Untold Tales is on board, Exit Plan Games may get the platform (get it?) they require.

Right, no explanation on the story or anything like that; instead, I’ll comment on the new levels – as in, I hadn’t played them until this point. Before, we had the rather epic Vikings stage, but the focus here is the Race to Space – a self-contained game in itself.

Bang-on Balls: Chronicles Preview - Rocket fuel
Rocket fuel. Source: Screen capture

With the cold war(?) as the base story for this Bang-On Balls: Chronicles stage, you play as the Americans attempting to launch a rocket into space before the Russians. In this colossal level, you must find the pieces to start up the rocket, get it fueled, and then win that definitive race. As per the Vikings stage, Bang-on Balls: Chronicles is an open world, so you can tackle the objectives however you see fit.

Your ball avatar will be donned in an American flag (annoying, only because it conflicts with the wicked costumes you unlock, not because I’m a Brit), then go forth on their adventure. If you’re new to Bang-on Balls: Chronicles, you freely move around the levels, jumping, double-jumping and dashing. Applying the slam technique when falling will cause more damage, but this is effectively the skill button that triggers whatever weapon you have – an anti-gravity gun, freeze spell, or the awesome molotov.

You’ll ram or jump onto fellow balls throughout the level to acquire the game’s currency, used to buy new gear. A dedicated vacuum button swallows them up, and should you find the special NPCs and have enough dosh, you can unlock new cosmetic items – typically level-based such as a Soviet uniform or perhaps donning a trucker hat to make you look like a redneck. The bottom line is the cosmetic side is brilliant and offers plenty of options.

Without opposable thumbs, the moveset might feel restrictive in Bang-on Balls: Chronicles, but it works to its advantage. Mini boss battles will involve bashing enemies into the said boss to use as a projectile or ricocheting other objects into it to keep at bay. The difficulty level never felt out of place as there’s enough of a health buffer to keep you going. Like the Sonic series, if you lose your orbs, or balls, you’ll die. That said, it’s easy to accumulate enough health to stay alive. I’d say that the Vikings stage was more of a challenge than Race to Space.

But if you’re one of those tight sorts who want value for money, I think you’ll be pleased with the game, what with it being an Early Access and all. Two full levels might not seem enough, but my ‘quick go’ earned me two hours or so on the clock when I was just ‘experimenting’. It’s thoroughly entertaining and encourages you to explore. While there are a few platform puzzles to work out, such as how to elevate yourself to rescue an ally, I didn’t encounter once moment of frustration with this game.

Like the last write-up, I got my youngest to play Bang-On Balls: Chronicles first, and she loved it. It gave me some breathing space to write about other things in the meantime, but I found myself glancing back at this and ultimately bailing her out of sections when she got stuck. What that translates to is, Daddy will get you past this bit, but he has to follow through and do the whole of this section. Bang-On Balls: Chronicles is for bigger kids only. Yeah, right.

Bang-on Balls: Chronicles has had frequent updates since Early Access, and there’s bound to be more. Fellow players will already note the construction tape for some levels such as a Western-themed stage, and a Japanese one. Early birds who play now can also benefit from samurai armour or ninja gear. Why are you still reading this? Go check it out!

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