Classic Game Review: Gumball

Can you use transcendental curve smoothing techniques to predict production schedules? How are your shop floor control techniques? Are you proficient with balanced line loading? Well, even if you couldn’t tell a bill of material from a breakeven analysis chart, there’s a new factory game for you. In `Gumball’, you don’t have to build the factory (some crazy man already did that). You don’t have to climb around on it. You don’t even have to jump over pieces of it. All you have to do is operate it. Using joystick or keyboard, you throw levers to direct production outputs and to position coloured bins under the out- put chutes of the factory to collect the coloured gumballs as they are made.

Be absolutely sure to catch each gumball in the properly coloured bin. Make just one little innocent mistake and the Quality Control inspector will come out and dump the entire bin. By the by, a colour TV or monitor is a must! Just like in every factory, there’s more to your job than that. There’s the quota, the time clock and conveyor belt speed. You control only the belt speed. In fact, if you don’t speed things up considerably in the later rounds, you’ll never meet your quota before 5:00 p.m.

Don’t punch your time clock just yet, there’s more. Some of the gum- balls are rejects. Let them go into the reject bin or your point total is severely penalized. The first few times played, I ended up with 00000 points. It’s a little demoralizing to play for five minutes and end up with zip. In fact, it feels a lot like the first day on any new job. And, if all that isn’t enough, some deranged bunch of dental school dropouts have put gumball bombs into the works. You’ve got to get them in the sights of a LSCFFG (Let’s Save Candy for Fun Gun) to get rid of them. The graphics of `Gumball’ are delightful. Objects move smoothly in front of and behind each other, as if you just plugged a special graphics board into your Apple. In fact, it’s worth catching a few gumballs in the wrong bins just to watch them tip over.

Between shifts, there’s a cartoon and a promotion. The cartoon shows the victorious factory worker returning home after a successful day at the factory. As the rounds progress, the home he returns to gets fancier. It had better! The first bears a striking resemblance to a building which should have a crescent moon carved into its door. Game play requires a lot more strategy than you might suspect at first glance. The game can be played on a number of levels. The most basic is to simply meet your quota and move on. If this is your goal, you can pretty well forget about where you dump the reject gumballs, and not worry too much about missing some good ones. Just concentrate on catching most of the coloured ones in the right bins, getting your quota and your promotion.

On another plane, however, is the goal of maximizing points. Now you must treat every moving gumball with equal attention. You’ll find yourself becoming a clock watcher. “If I work for just a few more minutes, I could get another 1000 points”, are the words of a newly created gamers.

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