3D Gravity 360
| 3D Gravity 360

Mainstream video gaming has always had its fads, but the past five years or so have probably marked a faddy pinnacle. Whether it's swaying grasses in 3D shooters, ragdoll physics, smashable windows or, going back a decade, the supremely superfluous lens flare, developers have always been keen to implement headline-grabbing technologies in their games, even if they're just jumping on a bandwagon that before long will be moving in a new direction.

Mobile games haven't featured these sorts of fads anywhere near as much as their console or PC brethren – the comings and goings of this industry are much more about the rise and fall of entire genres rather than the little sparkly elements within them. Gravity or physics modelling, however, is one mechanic that mobile could do with more of.

3D Gravity 360 is a largely traditional matching puzzler that mixes 3D with physics modelling, more-or-less as the title suggests. You control a circular board that has four channels running into it. Balls of various colours (those old friends) enter from each direction and lodge themselves in one of the channels, and it's up to you to swivel the board to match the blighters up.

However, not only do you have control within the horizontal plane, but you can also upturn the board, giving you a couple of extra ball-friendly channels to work with on the other axis.

The gravity element of the game is decidedly light, centred mainly around the benign movements of the balls as they collide like two rubbery stress toys bouncing against each other. It's a sight truly worthy of a comical 'spa-doink' sound effect.

The main Level Mode sees you working through a branching stage select screen, like the map of a family tree or pyramid scheme without anywhere near as much regret and obligation. Completing a level unlocks it in the secondary Challenge Mode. The only real difference between the modes is that the second records your score, begging the question whether the two couldn't just have been merged together.

Although in each level you have the same aim (of segregating the rainbow), there are a number of different possible challenge factors. You'll either be looking to survive for a certain length of time, make enough matches within a limited time, or simply gain a certain number of points without overloading one of the ball streams.

The branching level structure means that you can find yourself deep into the difficulty curve fairly quickly, but you'll soon learn to go back to previous, unfinished levels before spending too much time on the later challenges. By the time you've made it half way down the level tree, the movements of the balls will have accelerated exponentially, demanding some pretty swift key tapping. There are eight difficulty stages in total but actually only 15 levels, a fact that the level 'map' screen hides fairly well.

The 3D and supposed gravity elements don't manage to disguise the lack of innovation in this title, though. In almost all respects, the game doesn't stray from any of the guidelines of the matching genre.

However, what's here is perfectly pleasant and certainly challenging. Often, it'll seem like the left and right buttons are rotating the game board the wrong way, but since this is a basic pratfall of working in three dimensions in the way this game does, we can't complain too loudly. It does mean that you never really feel like you've mastered control of the gameboard, but rather that you're struggling with it, at least when things start to speed up.

The situation could have been helped by clearing up the in-game interface a touch. The dominance of the time/score bar and the spectacularly un-contextualised robot avatar, seemingly determined to crop up in just about every screen in the game with no real reason for being there, leaves the actual gameboard looking like a skeletal visual afterthought. Considering the production is actually rather well presented, the neglecting of the core element of the game screen seems a little odd.

Still, niggles aside, 3D Gravity 360 is a competent puzzler, even if it doesn't quite manage to live up to the trinity of bells and whistles that its title suggests.

3D Gravity 360

3D Gravity 360's fancy 3D elements don't compensate for the fact that it's not quite as good as its top genre rivals. It's not bad, mind
Kath Brice
Kath Brice
Kath gave up a job working with animals five years ago to join the world of video game journalism, which now sees her running our DS section. With so many male work colleagues, many have asked if she notices any difference.