Indie game IonBall gets Xbox Live sequel with all the trimmings

Xbox Live isn’t exactly crawling with brick-breaking games at the moment. The only such game, 3D Brick Breaker Revolution (review), is ten kinds of terrible. Gamers looking for a Breakout-style fix have had to make do with indie games, such as IronSun Studios (opens in new tab)IonBall, which we reviewed in December.

Great news for fans of that game and brick-breaking games in general – IonBall is getting a sequel, and it will be an Xbox Live title to boot.

Head past the break for more exclusive IonBall EX details and screens!

The new game’s official description:

IonBall EX is a modern twist on a classic Breakout style game, featuring an XP-based progression system and end-of-level bosses that are going to push you to the extreme, all delivered in a unique Steampunk style. With 35 challenging levels, mind-bending features and awesome bosses, IonBall EX is the breakout game to "break" all others. See where you can get on the leaderboard, or unlock Achievements like "Record Breaker" or "Wipeout” - the IonBall EX challenge is here.

But how does EX differ from its predecessor? For starters, the levels are all-new, except for the bosses. There are several new 'feature' bricks that affect the ball in unique ways: Teleport, Blade, Spinner, and Blower. The music has been updated as well (the original relied heavily on ambient sounds). And of course, the friends leaderboard and Xbox Live Achievements (opens in new tab) will greatly extend the life of the game.

3D Brick Breaker Revolution featured some rather unsatisfactory controls. Thankfully IonBall EX does them much better. The default option, Slide, allows players to place a finger anywhere on the screen and then slide it left or right to steer the moving platform. By keeping your finger off to the side a bit, you can avoid obscuring the platform – very important. There’s also a Touch option that just moves the platform to whatever spot the player touches.

Left: The new feature bricks and controls. Right: Lots of powerups

Having spent some time with the original Xbox 360 IonBall, I’m really excited about this mobile sequel. Its retro-futuristic art design really stands out from similar games. The experience system, in which players earn experience from each level and apply it selectively towards upgrades, ties the game together quite addictively. Plus, it’s just fun to bust a few bricks and enemies with a ball and paddle.

IonBall EX will cost $2.99. The new game doesn’t have a release date yet as it’s still undergoing certification. But the original IonBall is available for $1.99 right now on Windows Phone (opens in new tab) (Zune link) and 240 Microsoft Points ($3) on Xbox 360 (opens in new tab). WPCentral will bring you more details as EX draws closer to release. 

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • It's nice to see Microsoft being willing to pick out some of the better indie titles to remake for Xbox Live. That said, I wish the indie games got more respect, both on Windows Phone and on the 360. Microsoft's focus on the Xbox Live titles makes Windows Phone 7 seem like a harder investment for me, as an indie game dev, than iOS or Android, simply because it's difficult to get any sort of exposure without Live certification.
  • How is it easier for indie games to get exposure on Android and iOS?
  • *raises hand* There's no competing marketplace.With both the Xbox and the Windows Phone, indie games are relegated to a separate portion of the marketplace from Xbox Live titles. It's much less cumbersome on the phone, but it's still separate. Not only do these games never receive face time or adverts on the service **** the fact there's even a section separate from the main Arcade area is never even advertised), they lack the features that make Arcade titles more desirable. Things like achievements and DLC aren't possible.There's also the bizarre fact that indie games have a **** of a time selling beyond the $1 margin. Zeboyd had this very issue when they launched "Chuthulu Saves the World". People don't seem to mind paying premium prices for official Arcade titles, but there's this large stigma attached to indie games and their pricing.Meanwhile, on the iPhone, your competition can come from anywhere. Everyone is part of a single market. An indie game is just as likely to do well in comparison to a big publisher game under the right conditions. Yes, if you pay money you can get some more front page time and skew results. But that's kind of the point: ANYONE can do it, and anyone can be a front pager.The other thing is simply foot traffic. Millions more people use an iDevice, and a far greater number of people are likely to visit Touch Arcade and say "Oh wow, that looks cool!" than you will see in a place like... Well... Here :/. If you're aggressive enough, and your idea and game LOOK good enough, you can grassroots the **** out of an iPhone launch. An indie game launch on an xbox platform simply won't generate those same sales, interest, or traffic.It's just easier elsewhere. Indie games with MS are a good starting point for a fresh developer, but they'll never get your the sales, respect, or recognition you can find with other platforms. It's a test bed for the most part, and little else.(PS: not commenting on Android. I don't use a Droid device so I couldn't tell you a t hing about their marketplace.)
  • *(Nevermind the fact that there's a section separate from the main Arcade area, which is never even advertised)I don't know how that first part of the sentence got censored :/
  • to prove a point.And sorry for three posts. I'm working on eight hours sleep over three days. I'm going to bed now. Sorry for being long winded (and making a bunch of grammar/spelling errors I wouldn't normally).
  • It's good that sequels get to be made with XBL in mind rather than simply a status upgrade for the existing game.I can see an AlphaJax 2 Live enabled for instance made from the ground up for the service and even more polished.