Ragdoll Blaster 3 iPhone game changes up its style

Mar 9, 2012
Games

Shooting stick-figure ragdolls out of a cannon at big bull’s eye targets isn’t something I considered essential to my app gaming lifestyle, at least not until I played the original Ragdoll Blaster. But the game has a sort of lazy charm about it. It was ugly, and simple and fun. And that seemed like enough. […]

Shooting stick-figure ragdolls out of a cannon at big bull’s eye targets isn’t something I considered essential to my app gaming lifestyle, at least not until I played the original Ragdoll Blaster. But the game has a sort of lazy charm about it. It was ugly, and simple and fun. And that seemed like enough. The new edition gives the game a polish that I’m not sure it needed, even if it adds a few enjoyable gameplay quirks to the mix.

The original Ragdoll Blaster got by on little more than a unique idea. After all, the visuals consisted of one-color stick figures being tossed around a background that resembled lined grid paper. It looked like a tech demo someone tricked you into downloading. But it was fun and challenging.

The sequel, Ragdoll Blaster 2, upped the visual ante significantly. Turning stick-figure men into fully-stuffed ragdolls that resembled the sack boy character from the PlayStation 3 hit Little Big Planet. But the gameplay didn’t waver. You could wind up throwing 40 ragdolls in a particular puzzle in an effort to hit the target. And that was the only measure of your performance. No star ratings, just a little tally for every doll you tossed into the empty space of levels that now resembled 1920’s factories.

But Ragdoll Blaster 3 is something else entirely. The levels offer greater variety throughout the numerous in-game worlds. You begin in an open-air world that resembles something like the basic stages of a Mario game, before heading over to subsequent worlds that all have unique properties that affect the gameplay. World 2, for instance, sees you sliding your ragdolls across icy terrain that makes them speed up as they go.

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That different stages bring about different gameplay effects feels like a welcome addition to the series. In theory, it should make the learning curve for certain puzzles more complex than they’ve been in the past. But for some reason, new gameplay tricks have replaced genuinely tricky ragdoll blasting. Even the more difficult challenges in Ragdoll Blaster 3 can be topped while throwing under a dozen rag dolls. That would be nearly impossible on some of the tougher puzzles in the previous outing.

And while the game still tracks your ragdoll throws, it also offers up three-star ratings for each level completion. Again, this isn’t necessarily unwelcome but the scoring seems wildly lenient at times. Three stars should represent an almost flawless effort to complete a level, where here it signifies something less than that.

Ragdoll Blaster 3 has traded in its hip look and rather uncompromising set-up for something decidedly more colorful and common while adding enough gameplay additions to mark it as a clear improvement on its predecessors. But within these improvements, the game loses a lot of what made it feel unique in the first place. Whether that’s enough to make it better or worse than the original or its sequel is something that simply comes down to personal preference. At its core, Ragdoll Blaster 3 is as well designed and fun as the earlier two games in the series, but feels like the difference in preferring one ice cream flavor over another.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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