Monster Ball is a simple turn-based strategy game where you command an army of different sized balls across a hex grid in a survival of the fittest battle where big balls eat smaller balls. To win the match, you must eat your opponent’s entire army. The basic gameplay is extremely simple, and almost has a checkers-like feel to it.
Each map starts you out an army of differently sized balls. Two small balls can be combined to a larger ball that can then eat smaller balls, but if any ball eats too much they will explode, leaving you with one less unit on the battlefield.
This basic gameplay is spiced up with various special tiles that do things like split one ball into two, clone a ball into two equal balls, and there are even special weapon tiles that allow you to fire bazookas at the opposing team. In single player you play against an AI opponent across ten different maps (in the current preview version). The single player is decent, but aside from a set of unlockable trophies there isn’t much replay value yet. But that’s where the online multiplayer comes in.
The really cool part about Monster Ball is that it isn’t just an iPhone game, it also is going to be released for the Mac and PC. Packaged with our preview copy of the iPhone version was a pre-release build of the Mac client which played absolutely identical to the iPhone game aside from the differences in user interfaces between clicking with the mouse and tapping with your finger.
These different clients can even play against each other seamlessly in online multiplayer matches. The latency is amazing, and sitting at my computer playing against myself on my phone there is almost no delay between the two screens.
I shot the following video showing an online multiplayer game. The picture in picture is a screen capture from my MacBook Pro playing against the iPhone client both connected to a server in Germany:
Monster Ball is still in development, but there’s no doubt that the cross-platform multiplayer is pretty cool. The ability to play against your friend at home on their computer using you phone sitting on a bus is exactly what I imagined when I first started thinking of the potential of a constantly connected cellular gaming device like the iPhone.