Saturday, July 19, 2008


(TBA 2 is one of the few games I've played a substantial amount of without there being a badge for it. Actually, if I were sticking to schedule I would have written this review a while ago, but I missed it before for that reason. Fortunately, the timing works out well, for reasons you'll see at the end of the review.)

TBA 2 (which is also called TBA++ in some of its documentation; I don't know which is the preferred title, so I'm using what Kongregate calls it) is a one-button game -- all you ever have to do is press Space. The trick, of course, is pressing Space at the right time.

You have a playing field with a bunch of ports, and when you press Space, the ball will launch from its current port in some direction, and hopefully land in another port. The goal in each level is to reach the red exit port. Some ports just sit there, and indeed to beat the easiest levels all you have to do is hit Space repeatedly. However, most of the ports do something -- rotate, move back and forth, move around a track, etc. -- so getting your timing right is tricky. Each level also has a par time (dying does nothing particularly bad to you; you just restart and the timer keeps running) set as a target to beat, as well as a star you can collect; collecting stars allows you to unlock new worlds.

Simply beating a level is very easy; getting the stars and beating the par scores requires a bit more effort, but is not terribly hard by all means. There are some additional achievements which require some more careful play (for instance, beat all levels in a world without dying), which means that the game will remain interesting for a little while longer, but it's still not a long game by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it's entertaining for a little while. TBA 2 is another jmtb02 production, which means lots of stars and sparkles in the graphics. The music is very good (somewhat reminiscent of Super Monkey Ball), the backgrounds are very nice, and the sound effects are decent.

Now, it's time for me to rant a little. Like GemCraft (and many other games I've reviewed here), TBA 2 is distributed (produced? sponsored? I'm not quite sure what the right word is here) by Armor Games. Armor Games sponsors a lot of quality games, but recently they've started making it so that when their games appear on other sites, one feature is removed. This is presumably to encourage people to play games on their site instead, but it's incredibly frustrating to me to have to choose between getting badges and experiencing all of the content in the game (and I will choose the former, but I am annoyed by it). In GemCraft, this is just one skill, and not a particularly important skill, so it's no big loss. But in TBA 2, one (possibly two? it's unclear) entire areas are removed in the Kongregate version, which means that some of the achievements it's not even possible for me to get (this is also, allegedly, part or possibly all of the reason that it doesn't have badges on Kongregate). I find this very unsatisfying, and hope that this practice doesn't continue to persist.

Anyway, with that rant off of my chest, like I said, TBA 2 is not a particularly deep or challenging game, but it is a well-put-together game which should provide entertainment for a little while.

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