JezzBall is a video game in which red-and-white balls, referred to as atoms, bounce about a rectangular field of play, or room. The player advances to the next level (with correspondingly higher numbers of atoms and lives) by containing the atoms in progressively smaller spaces, until at least 75% of the area is blocked off. One gains a bonus at the end of each level, which is calculated using both lives, time left and the area cleared percentage. A certain amount of points is given for each percentage between 80 and 90 and even more points are awarded for each percentage between 90 and 100 (although the highest possible percentage is 99.6, which can only be obtained on level 1). Percentages below 80 does not add any bonus points. JezzBall is similar to Qix, which was released during the Golden Age of Arcade Games.
JezzBall was programmed by Dima Pavlovsky and introduced in 1992 as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack, and also in the later Best of Windows Entertainment Pack. The game is named Jezzball after Jez San, who was a contemporary of Dima at the time. Despite Microsoft withdrawing support in 1996, it still has a dedicated fan base and there are several open source and shareware clones of the game. No fewer than eight such clones exist, covering nearly every major desktop and PDA operating system.
The purpose of the game is to contain the atoms within a room at most 25% the size of the initial room. By using the left click to create walls and the right click to rotate the direction of the wall-building device (WBD), the user must contain atoms in smaller and smaller rooms. When a room is made that contains no atoms, the room disappears. The amount of black on the screen is displayed as a percentage, and when this percentage reaches over 75%, the level is won and play proceeds to the next level. The first level has two atoms, and each subsequent level has an additional atom. There are an infinite number of levels during play, so that one can never "beat" the game. However, there are only 49 distinct levels, and upon beating the 49th level (containing 50 atoms), the subsequent level is merely a repetition of the 49th level.
The player begins each level with the same number of lives as there are atoms in that level. The location of the cursor on the screen defines where the wall will originate, and this position can be termed the WBD. When initiated, two beams of "potential-wall energy" extend from the WBD as rays (in the mathematical sense) until reaching the perimeter of the current room. These two rays operate independently of each other. Upon reaching the perimeter without being hit by an atom, a potential energy ray (depicted in either red or blue) turns black and now serves to further section the room as a proper wall. Should an atom collide with only one of the extending energy rays, that energy ray disappears and a life is lost, but the other energy ray continues extending towards the perimeter. Should an atom collide with the other energy ray, another life would be lost. However, should the second energy ray reach the perimeter of the room, a partial wall will be produced. Two lives are also lost if an atom collides with the energy rays at their combined source (where they meet). The corners of the head of each energy ray are protected from being hit by an atom. This historical game description is therefore quite similar in rules (if balls are substituted for atoms) to the one used in a current clone game at The KDE Games Center.
The fact that the two energy rays produced by the WBD act independent of one another is the basis for the stovepipe method of atom capture, and may speculatively be the only method of play that will allow advancement to higher levels. This is because, as the number of atoms increases, it becomes increasingly more difficult to remove parts of the room. Stovepipes are made by intentionally allowing an atom to hit one of the expanding energy rays (thus sacrificing a life) while making sure the other energy ray does in fact succeed in producing a partial wall. The closer the WBD is to one side of the room, the higher the risk is of losing one energy ray to an atom collision, and at the same time, the higher the chance is of securing the other energy ray of producing a partial wall.
It is important to note that the bonus points are much more than the points awarded for clearing 75 per cent. For example one gets 7244 points including a bonus of 4234 points for clearing 76 per cent in level one. In the same level one gets 20177 points including a bonus of 16278 after clearing 99 per cent. Therefor to score maximum points one should strive to approach the theoretical maximum. The suggested tactic is to approach, but not reach, 75 per cent - say 70 per cent. The remaining about 29 per cent should then be cleared in a single stroke.
Clones of the original JezzBall normally offer updated graphics but vary slightly in timing and scoring from the original.
Many of these clones are shareware, limiting non-paying users to only a handful of levels. Many of these are found on JezzBall.com, an unofficial JezzBall page that is at least partially funded through the sale of these clones. Others, including IceBreaker and KBounce, are cross-platform, free software, open source games that are available on a number of operating systems. Some are skinable; The open source Icebreaker's default skin varies radically from JezzBall, using Tux, the Linux mascot, in place of balls. Silverware Games' Jezz Cubed offer dramatically different interfaces from the original JezzBall, adding three dimensional play, giving the player a cube to reduce by growing planes instead of a plane reduced by lines. Two mobile clones exist for Windows Phone 7, one is Ice Ball for Windows Phone 7, another being titled simply JezzBall.
"JezzBall Classic" was released by Winterdust for Android early July 2011 and iPhone/iPad early September 2011. Built using Adobe AIR it was made to be exactly like the original JezzBall, both gameplay-wise and graphically. It also expands the original game play through several optional game modes.
- Jezzball Flash Remake
- Jezz Cubed official site
- Icebreaker official site
- iPhone Version from Pixio Software
- Jezzball for Palm
- BurnBall - iPhone game with same gameplay
- JezzballDS - Jezzball homebrew for Nintendo DS
- Jezster / SuperJezzin- iPhone and WM games
- Trap!, a Jezzball clone for the Android OS
- JezzBall Classic - version of JezzBall for Android/iOS made out to be exactly like the original game