Bounce is perhaps the best kept secret in mobile gaming. True enough, lots of old Nokia stalwarts out there will know enough about the built-in rubber ball game, but there'll be enough pocket gamers who're new to the closest thing Nokia has ever had to a gaming mascot.
Bounce was originally pre-installed on a lot of Nokia handsets, back when mobile gaming was more of a novelty - like having a calculator or calendar built into your phone. But it was also a great game, packed with the kind of pick-up-and-play addictiveness the industry still thrives upon. And while it's not quite a retro classic, seeing Bounce revived for the new generation of N-Gage systems will undoubtedly raise an involuntary squeak of intrigue from fans of the original.
In Boing Voyage, the classic Nokia game has been given a suitable next-gen mobile update to bring it in line with a host of contemporary hits like Super Monkey Ball. But what's equally pleasing to see is how the developer, Rovio Mobile, has clearly made an effort to retain the feel of the original Bounce - this is clearly a well-designed sequel, rather than a rehashing of a once popular name.
The game begins with a suitably surreal introduction to your forest-like surroundings, and the woeful tale of hypnotised woodland creatures being forced to assail the environment at the command of an evil, floating cube. Topical, eh?
Being a geometric counterpart to this evil rhombus, it's your happy duty to return the geometric universe to its former glory using your powers of bouncing. The levels are superbly designed, acting as a high speed Sonic-esque races along dynamic environmental speedways at one moment, then switching (quite organically) to a brain scratching puzzler as you attempt to fathom how to get the ball back on track. This constant cross and change of momentum and mental dexterity keep Boing Voyage intensely enthralling - the kind of game that can make you miss a bus stop or a day at work purely through escapist distraction.
While it doesn't take a particularly long time to reach the end of the game (with a great surprise in store, by the way), replay value has been added in a vein much like those many super-console games use. You can chase your way to the end of a level as quickly as possible, and really enjoy the spherical acrobatics such an approach takes, but this will only award you something in the region of 200 pickup points out of a possible 1000. To bolster those points and get the most out of the bouncing action you must take extra time to collect up the plethora of well-hidden and difficult to reach bonus spheres secreted about the levels.
Often enough you'll find that gathering up the bonuses is a great reason to play through the levels again, so Bounce Boing Voyage really feels like one of those rare gifts that keeps on giving. With three Arena levels also thrown in (along with an online score board), this game makes the best and fullest use of the N-Gage platform we've seen for quite some time.
The bright and cheerful 3D visuals are as slick as any on the N-Gage and could almost rival those of the DS or PSP (albeit on significantly smaller screens), while the music and audio sing along tunefully and make the absolute most of the superior audio capabilities such handsets were designed to deliver. Indeed, the overall presentation and gameplay of Bounce Boing Voyage is exactly the kind of console-esque pocket game the N-Gage needs to put itself forward as a contender in the mobile gaming campaigns.