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Ionball 2: Ionstorm

Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Iron Sun Studios
Developer: Iron Sun Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Puzzle/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

Do you remember Breakout and Arkanoid? They were classic action/arcade games and I was a big fan of both of them. Iron Sun Studios is breathing new life into the block-breaking genre with Ionball 2: Ionstorm. With updated graphics and pulse-pounding music, you will work your way through 60 punishing levels in an attempt to defeat the invading forces and drive them from the tower. Ok, so it's not much of a story, but you don't play a game like Ionball 2: Ionstorm for the story. You play it because it has that "one more level" draw.

The game is pretty, but admittedly, there's not a whole lot you can do with a paddle, a ball and a bunch of droids, but what's there looks good. While in the Tower area, which serves as the hub, you can see the level laid out before you and if you click once on a given room, you can see a hologram of what enemy pattern awaits you, sort of like a preview of what is to come. While in game, you have a number of power-ups at your disposal and some will result in a beautiful explosion of color and destruction. This is definitely a new, improved and beautiful version of the block-breaking genre of game.

The music is a mix of hard rock, metal and dubstep and at times reminded me of Skrillex's "Bangarang" and others of Static X's "Push It." The music definitely works to get you geared up and because of this and the stress level while playing the game, I don't suggest you play it right before going to sleep. It tended to get me keyed up. The sound effects are also good, ranging from a satisfying boom when you explode an enemy, to an electronic-sounding bong when you bounce off a spinner, to a sizzling thwip when you collect the yellow and green experience points that are dropped when enemies are killed.


Ionball 2: Ionstorm claims to have 60 levels of play, but I only remember 40 of them, well 4 floors of 10 levels each, anyway. Perhaps I was so involved in getting through each level that I lost count, but all I can tell you is that you will feel extreme elation when you beat this incredibly cruel game. The icing on the cake is going back and playing it all over again, with all of your upgrades intact.

So each room has an enemy pattern that you must defeat to progress. You can see all of the rooms in a floor in the hub area, so you don't have to do them in any particular order. In fact, if you get stuck and are getting frustrated, skip a room and come back to it later, hopefully with improved upgrades.

Ionball 2: Ionstorm is a combination of Breakout, Arkanoid, but also a bit of Space Invaders as your enemies will move about and even encroach on your space, giving you very little room to bounce that ball back at them. Some levels are pretty difficult and you will die a lot. No matter - as I said, Ionball 2: Ionstorm has that great but terrible draw of pulling you back with just one more level. Then you look at the clock and hours have passed.


Ionball 2: Ionstorm is hard. It's punishing, unforgiving and a little bit evil, but it is oh-so-much fun. If you like action games reminiscent of the classic games of old, it will draw you back each and every time. As you progress, the levels get more difficult, as do the bosses. The difference between standard levels and the boss levels is that you will not have a ball to use against the boss, at least not at first. You will have to avoid the onslaught of enemy fire from the boss and live long enough for a ball to drop for you to fight back a little. They are called bosses for a reason, though, and beating one gets you to another floor.

You aren't completely on your own in this fight, though. You will have a number of passive and active upgrades that you can purchase with your hard-earned experience points. These range from a larger and better shielded paddle, to rail guns, machine guns, and laser guns, to emp and tesla balls that damage droids and weaken enemies, to even kamikaze balls that make you lose a life, but take out all the guys around them. Use them wisely and in every level because you can use one upgrade per life per level. Use what you have at your disposal, especially because certain enemies are impervious to most weapons.

Game Mechanics:

Ionball 2: Ionstorm uses the mouse as you move your paddle back and forth to bounce the ball back towards the enemies, hopefully breaking them down until you clear the level. You will release the ball with your left mouse click and activate your selected upgrade with the right mouse click. Scroll through your upgrades by using the mouse's scroll wheel and I always found it helpful to queue up my favorite upgrade in the moments the enemies are arranging themselves. For instance, it automatically starts on the emp, but right next to the emp is the kamikaze, which causes you to lose a ball. If you are low on lives, you may not want to use this guy.

Some enemies take a few hits, some can only be hit from behind and require you to bounce the ball off the back wall. Some levels have black hole portals that cause your ball to go in one and shoot out the other to throw you a literal curve ball. Sometimes, fortune smiles upon you and a canister drops that powers up your ball by either cloning it so you have three balls in play or making it a super-terror ball that burns through rows of enemies. These are great. However, on the flip side, certain enemies will unleash a bomb that will demolish you on contact once they are killed, while others release flaming balls that destroy your paddle, so you have to make sure not to bounce those balls back. It sounds simple enough, but when you have three of your green balls flying around and then three red, murderous balls start heading your way, all the while lasers are shooting you up, it can get hectic.

The longer you keep a ball in play without dying, the more your Super Ray will charge up. It will discharge automatically when full, killing an enemy. Sometimes this happens while you have a lone droid onscreen and have been bouncing your ball in an attempt to aim it at just the right spot. This is a merciful thing and I was always happy when it occurred. Also, this resulted in an extra life, giving you a little bit more time to play before the dreaded "Game Over" sound occurred. Beating a level without dying also resulted in a score boost of 10% each time up to 50%, which is helpful because you lose points when you die and have to continue. Also, the game kindly reminds you of your folly with a running tab of how many times you have died. I died a lot, but who cares! I had fun doing it.

Ionball 2: Ionstorm is a blast if you like action games. I highly encourage anyone to check it out that loved classic block-breaking games from back in the day. This is a much prettier looking game than those ever were and the action is fierce.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP; Processor: Dual Core 1.6 ghz or better; Memory: 2 GB RAM; Graphics: Graphics card supporting DirectX 9.0c and Shader Model 3.0; DirectX: Version 9.0c; Hard Drive: 2 GB available space; Sound Card: Any

OS: Windows 7; Processor: Dual Core 2.0 ghz or better; Memory: 4 GB RAM; Graphics: nVidia GeForce 8800 or higher. ATI HD 3850 or higher; DirectX: Version 9.0c; Hard Drive: 2 GB available space; Sound Card: Any


Test System:

Windows 7, 2 GHz AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor, 8GB RAM, Realtek High Definition Audio On-Board Sound, NVIDIA GeForce 8300

Related Links:

Windows Them - The Summoning: Chapter 1 Microsoft Xbox 360 How to Train Your Dragon 2

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