Originally released in 1985, Bounder is an action based game in which you navigate a little tennis ball through a variety of courses to reach the end goal of each. Naturally, this is all while attempting to avoid numerous pitfalls and enemies that are encountered along the way. Its popularity continues today and has been featured in a number of retro magazines, videos and on social media. We were recently given the chance to test out a newly remastered and re-coded version of Bounder for the mobile platform.
The presentation is polished, from the cute cartoon app icon to the bright and clear menu screens. Upon loading, you are given a short screen wipe animation pushing in the title, main character and background. You are then promptly given the option of three different versions to play, each represented by an image of the system the game was originally released for, Commodore 64, Amstrad and ZX Spectrum. I decided to give the ZX Spectrum version a try initially as it was the most familiar to me and the family computer when I was growing up.
Courses are made up of a tiled flooring system which is suspended in the air and any slight deviation from this will find you speeding towards the ground, subsequently losing a life. The courses feature a number of power-up squares which give you a boost forward allowing previously unreachable tiles to be hit. After completing a course you head over to a bonus area that consists of mystery tiles offering a myriad of bounty including additional lives and extra bounces.
The Spectrum version looks basic sticking true to the simpler colour pallet available on the 8-bit home computer, I found it relatively difficult to differentiate a tile from the floor in places. The visuals are upgraded to colour for the Amstrad version which was an instant plus and we even get parallax scrolling on the Commodore 64 helping to ease my initial issue. There are three different control methods on offer, virtual joystick, tilt and swipe. I spent a fair amount of time changing between the options but finally decided that swipe method worked best. I struggled with the virtual joystick and tilt methods as the precision wasn’t great on either. It’s good that the option to decide is there and for me, this really needs some form of physical input to get that level of accuracy required. As part of the updated package, we now have continues and passcodes at our disposal on each of the 30 levels the full game contains.
Bounder is challenging, frustrating at times but has that one more try feeling at its core and keeps you coming back for more. I guess that is why the game has had such a lasting appeal over the years and is still popular even in today’s 4K gaming generation.
It looks like Bounder will also be heading to the big console formats, I particularly think this will be suited to the Nintendo Switch. Hopefully, you will be able to choose the aspect ratio by flipping the console in the same fashion as a mobile but while keeping the option to use the Joycon. For mobile, there are two versions released, free to play with adverts and limited access to levels or a paid version which will unlock all levels while removing ads. With this in mind, you should at least try out Bounder whether you are a first time player or a returning veteran.
Beard Score: 6.5 /10
Publisher: Swivel Creations
Format: Android, iOS