Genre : Top down/ Action Platformer
Publisher: Gremlin Graphics
Developers: Sean Hollingworth, Marcos Druroe, Peter Harrap and Chris Kerry
In the mid-eighties, ball-based puzzle games were all the rage on 8-bit machines and Bounder was a classic in the genre. Audiences of Marble Madness and Trailblazer were thrilled by this smooth scrolling platformer featuring a lovable Tennis Ball. Controlling a Tennis Ball is a fairly unique character choice on the part of Gremlin Graphics but the ingenuity didn’t end there.
Bounder could be considered a platforming adventure with a difference. The game was viewed from a top-down perspective. The idea of the game was to guide the forever bouncing ball through the level avoiding a series of obstacles.
These obstacles presented themselves along a pathway of hexagonal paving stones which forever scrolled down the screen. Featuring an incredible 174 screens split into ten levels, this was an addictive and at times challenging 8-bit title. The general rule of survival was to avoid anything which was moving and heading your way and to just stick to the hexagonal tiles.
Obstacles to avoid included piles of jagged rocks, sone walls (which had to be bounced around) and scary shards of glass (no doubt left my some scummy yoofs drinking in the screet) which punctured your little round ball of happiness. There were also the evil Binoculoids which zoomed in trying to knock you off course and the evil (but wonderfully named) Chomper Domes attempting to block your progression.
The player had a stack of seven tennis balls with which to attempt to complete the game. Every time you strayed off the pathway or knocked into one of the nasties a life (or tennis ball) was taken away. All was not all doom and gloom however, as with most classic arcade titles, help could be obtained from power-ups.
Landing on a square with an arrow symbol on it gave you a supercharged bound – this was twice as powerful as an ordinary bounce and came in handy. There were teleport squares which could assist you in avoid some nasties ahead and mysterious squares marked with a question mark which contained a surprise. Landing on these might provide a welcome extra life… or something… nasty.
Once you reached the end of a level, your ball was shot through a goal mouth and you were taken to a bonus screen. This screen was full of the ‘mystery squares’ and each one held a hidden number of bonus points. You had a limited amount of bounces on this screen so it was important to use them wisely in order to gain optimal points.
This is a fantastic title and rightly still regarded as a classic today. It takes a few goes to get used to the gameplay mechanics but once you do, you will be hooked. Impressive scrolling and tight level design make this a must play!