What's the difference between a game and a toy?

The ball-in-cup contraptions that have you flicking a plastic ball into a cup, which is attached via a piece of twine wouldn't be considered a game by most, yet put it on a portable device and all of a sudden it's a video game.

Ramps is little more than a digital version of ball-in-cup, gussied up with touch controls and colourful graphics. Despite an effort to pair its simple premise with platforming elements, it's not that satisfying a game.

Ramping up

A brief glimpse at the sales charts would suggest developer Backabit is heading down the right track, it's hard to get excited about what Ramps brings to the table. The ball-dropping action delivers on a functional level, but only if playing with physics in a rudimentary fashion is what you're after.

With a clock ticking away, your job is to both move and tilt platforms to guide a ball – or big, bouncy smiley face if you prefer – into a cup at the bottom of the stage.

Once your ramps have been positioned appropriately – dragging with a finger moves them, whereas swiping at either end shifts their angle - the ball comes into play, dropping from a shoot at the top of the level before navigating its way to the goal below.

Cups and coins

Getting the ball from A to B is the only crucial objective, though each stage also comes with a number of additional challenges, such as finishing within a set time or on your first attempt. You can even try to pick up a hard-to-reach coin along the way.

Indeed, as you progress through the predictably themed ice and lava-filled levels, the difficulty steadily climbs. More and more objects – from ice cubes and penguins to magnets and fans – muddy the waters. This makes Ramps not just a question of merely playing with gravity, but rather a case of coping with the quagmire of gadgets and gizmos as well.

Unfortunately, success often seems to be down to luck rather than any set plan, leading to a succession of shrugs when things happen to go your way, and a series of equally apathetic responses when they don't.

Potent peers

It doesn't help that the game holds much in common with several other arguably more successful physics puzzlers – the likes of Cut the Rope and Pocketball immediately springing to mind.

The difference is, despite the retro edge afforded by the game's soundtrack, Ramps lacks the character and charm of its rivals. Furthermore, it feels more random and less substantive.

Whatever games have to keep you employed from one level to the next, Ramps is sorely lacking it, making it a prime example of when a developer's vision has veered towards serving up functionality over fun.