SNES A Day 42: Smart Ball

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Approximate Release Date: March 1, 1992
Genre: Action/platformer
Developer: Game Freak/System Sacom
Publisher: Sony Imagesoft

Smart Ball is adorable. That’s not surprising since Game Freak, the developers of Pokémon, were involved in its creation.

You play as Jerry, a boy who has been turned into a blob by a wizard. The only reason I know that is from reading the game’s wikipedia page, since Sony Imagesoft decided to remove all of the non-platforming and story features from the game’s US release. I can’t remember another time this kind of thing happened, so it’s an interesting note about Smart Ball. I doubt we missed much.

Smart Ball‘s most obvious gimmick is that, as a ball, you can alter your shape. You can destroy enemies by pressing up or down and using the force of your expanding body to hit them. It can be hard to time, but it’s not a bad idea to base the game around even if I found it easier to avoid enemies instead. Pressing R shoots out the balls you collect from flowers, but I found myself forgetting I had the ability. None of the enemies in the early goings really need to be dealt with from a distance except for the first boss.

You can also make Jerry stick to walls and ceilings by holding Y. This works fine, but it’s not as responsive as I’d like. It can be hard to detach from the wall and clear obstacles, and doing wall jumps isn’t possible. I don’t know how much I can fault Smart Ball for here because it’s not like this mechanic is broken. There just could have been more done to flesh it out.

But that applies to the entirety of Smart Ball. This is a simple game that doesn’t rise above its obvious NES inspirations. Much like RPM Racing, this is a notable game only because it’s an odd early title by a now-beloved developer and not because of any merit.

Tomorrow: Snap your fingers for The Addams Family!

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