Neverball is an open-source version of Super Monkey Ball, which itself owes quite a bit to the classic Atari arcade game Marble Madness. It’s quite fun, and challenging. It runs on Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD, so you have essentially no excuse for not trying it out.
The game requires quite a bit of CPU (and graphics card – hardware OpenGL acceleration is required) oomph, but the payoff is worth it. The textures are simple by dazzlingly bright, reminding me of the earliest of the Atari 800 chromaluma extravaganzas, but with more detail. Real-time reflections and shadows are part and parcel of the package, as is an amusing version of the game called Neverputt which is, as you might guess, a version of miniature golf.
The basic idea: you have a ball. It’s on a course. There are coins, obstacles, and a goal on the course. You want to pick up the coins, avoid the obstacles, and reach the goal without falling off. So what’s the best way to do this?
Why, of course. The rational thing to do is tilt the entire world.
Moving the mouse causes the world to pitch “downwards” in the direction in which you moved it. This in turn causes the ball to roll. My one criticism of the game is that it’s a bit too difficult; the rebound when you smack into a wall is markedly stronger than in Super Monkey Ball. Which I guess make sense, since presumably monkeys are softer than metal balls.
Neverball is available, for free, on the web. There are over a hundred different levels to occupy you. Give it a shot. Happy rolling.
Now, if only someone would make an open-source, expandable version of Katamari Damashi…