Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint ($0.99, Universal) is not anything like playing a game of pool. Remember back to the time you first stepped up to a billiard table, grabbed the nearest pool ball, and sent it sailing across the table crashing into the other balls. That is a more accurate depiction of the fun that is Magnetic Billiards Blueprint.
The graphics are simple 2D renditions of pool balls on a billiards table. Everything is sketched out as if it were an actual blueprint. Game play takes a little getting used to — even though there is a very well articulated tutorial, you have to try and fail a few times before you really get the hang of things. Striking each pool ball is easy enough to master as interaction is similar to other pool games on touch devices. Tap the ball you want to hit, drag and pull in the opposite direction, then let go. However, where to aim, what to hit, and how to win is another matter entirely.
Each ball has a colored pattern on it. The goal is to join all of the similarly colored balls on the table together. The challenge is that you cannot hit an opposite color ball first. You must hit the same color ball first. There is also a point system where you score higher by bouncing off of the bumpers and “buzzing” other balls. Buzzing refers to coming very close to an opposite color ball, without actually hitting it. As each of the similarly colored balls hit each other, they lock together. And if you happen to join them together into specific geometric patterns you earn even more points.
Once all of the balls have been joined together into a geometric cluster, they are removed from the table. Once all clusters are cleared from the table, you are graded for how well you did. The higher the grade, the faster you are awarded a key to unlock the next table. This cycle of playing, scoring and getting graded continues through out the initial 20 tables that come with your initial purchase, as well as an endless arcade game.
So the real question concerning the in-app purchases relates to the skeleton key, the key that unlocks all of the tables. Is it truly worth the $7.99 that the Pickford Brothers charge? In addition to unlocking all tables in the game, it also opens up the three additional levels of 20 tables (available individually for $1.99 each), and the two additional arcade games (also $1.99 each). You also gain access to two rather cool prototype games. The 60 additional tables increase the difficulty and keep the game fresh as you earn the grade of spectacular on each table.
The two arcade games just stress you out by adding a countdown timer and an ever-increasing number of balls to the crowded table. But the real treasure is in the two prototypes, especially Squish, a gravity version of the classic magnetic billiards gameplay that more closely resembles a variant of Tetris. ISMMTTM, the other prototype game, is on the other hand a bit harder to explain, you will just have to try this platform-like rendition of a NinJump out for yourself. Overall the $0.99 initial investment is defiantly worth it, and if you find yourself wanting more, the added bonus of the two prototype games makes the $7.99 investment worth it as well.