You may recall some time back we looked into the Top 10 Boxes. Well today we continue our long-ish tradition of ranking shapes, but today we’ll be cutting a few corners.
Balls! You wanted to know the best of balls, and so we have spent some time looking at and discussing balls. Whether they’re used for sports, storage, puzzle solving or rolling death, so long as they’re spherical, they’re up for consideration, so apologies to fancy soirees and elegant gowns, but those aren’t the balls we’re in this game for.
So without further ado, let’s get this ball rolling….
Can’t believe I actually wrote that.
10. Sonic Spinball
If you’re a fan of pinball and also really enjoy the Sonic the Hedgehog series, then look no further. This is a combination of Sonic the Hedgehog and pinball, creating the aptly titled Sonic Spinball. It doesn’t get further than the number 10 spot on our list, as it’s literally just a cheesy game of pinball, but hey – Pinball itself needed to make its way to our list, as did Sonic. Two balls with one stone!
Whilst Sonic turns into a spinball, in Sonic Spinball, must play as Sonic who is basically in a giant pinball machine. You play a normal game of pinball with the caveat of doing some Sonic the Hedgehog themed tasks, such as destroying the Veg-O-Fortress. Sonic Spinball was a nice addition to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and, along with Robotniks Mean Bean Machine is one of the only games to be a spin off featuring the characters from the cartoon series and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
9. The Sphere (1998)
A good film with one hell of an anticlimax. Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson play a team of scientists sent to explore an object that landed in the Pacific Ocean, an American vessel bearing strangely advanced technology including a large, floating sphere, made of a shifting metallic substance that seems almost alive. After the examination, the team return to the submersible base, and strange occurrences begin to haunt them with increasing frequency.
Mystery, horror and intrigue abound, but the film rather fizzles in the last few minutes, almost like the writers didn’t quite know where to go for the last ten minutes, but in the meantime you’re taken on a fantastic journey that revolves (harr harr) around the glistening sphere, and the powers that it holds.
8. The Ball (Video Game)
In 2010, there was an indie dev who released a game which was titled “The Ball”. Yeah, very creative name, but to be honest there wasn’t much else you could have called it. Featuring a very Indiana Jones-esque character who is getting a ball around the place, his friendly ball, which helps him to solve puzzles – The Ball is a puzzle game which makes you seriously think about a man and his ball.
It’s amusing to think that a game could literally just be about that, but it needn’t be any more. I also enjoy knowing this game is by Tripwire Interactive, the guys who made the horror survival co-op game, Killing Floor. There are enemies to beat up, there are treasures to collect – and there’s a really big ball. Go and try this game if you can!
7. The Orb – Tomska
We’re fans of Tomska around here. For those who don’t know, Thomas Ridgewell was the creator of the ASDF cartoon series on YouTube, slightly fewer people are familiar with his longer running sketch work in conjunction with many other major British YouTubers. One of his most recent skits featured another favourite of ours, Poundshop tat reviewer Stuart Ashens. Ashens is not the ball we’re here to discuss.
The Orb has great power, but appeared not to get the memo about responsibility. Its motives seem unknowable, possibly malevolent, it’s hard to tell. Its demeanour is that of a glowing, floating, screaming ball. Its origins are… the hole. There’s a lot down that hole, but that’s another skit entirely, this one to be precise.
That is definitely blood.
6. Wheatley – Portal 2
I mean I can’t really blame Wheatley for too much that happened in the events of Portal 2. He was kind of stuck up there and was given the ability to have ultimate power over the testing facilities. When you’re voiced by Stephen Merchant, you need to get as much air time as you can, because that’s not only a recognisable voice, but a great one to have! Nevertheless, Wheatley gets in and BB-8 doesn’t, which could be somewhat questionable as it’s a robot who is also basically just a ball.
Well, see, whilst BB-8 is adorable and plays a huge role in his film, Wheatley takes it a huge step further. By being a floating eye of sorts, along with having those personality cores to be dealt with too, Wheatley turns from a naive, sweet robot who is helping you against GLaDOS… To an evil machine, hell-bent on seeing both you and GLaDOS put away forever! The only way to deal with a robot like this is to shoot him off, where no spherical bot has ever gone before… Spaaaaaaace!
5. Samus Aran – Metroid
Those of you who have seen pictures will be quite aware that Samus is not a ball, nor does she have… well actually if you have a passing knowledge of the Metroid series know that her suit is capable of compressing down into a sphere that is under her full control, allowing her to squeeze through far smaller spaces than any human should be able to, a mere 80cm across. No one ask how, it is better we never know what’s going on inside.
It’s a key upgrade in most of the Metroid series, and one that has a long list of upgrades of its own. Being part of the armour it also changes in appearance with armour upgrades, but while the overall look of the Morph Ball changes, the image of the graceful and heavily armoured warrior curling into a tight ball and rolling into air vents is a little iconic in its own way. It also brings new meaning to the phrase “Transform and roll out.”
4. The Boulder – Raiders of the Lost Ark
This scene is iconic, I’m sure I need not describe it… but basically it’s Indiana Jones fleeing from a massive rolling stone that threatens to crush him to death, part of an elaborate trap he sprang while attempting to steal some ancient treasure. We could ask why the boulder didn’t just go the other way, meeting him in the corridor rather than chasing him along it, but who cares? It’s an incredible moment of adventure that drives the action, raises the peril and fills us all with excitement, and many a DM with the lingering thought “I’m totally stealing that.”
And steal we did. The gigantic rolling rock is now a staple trap of games world over. You can even play as the boulder in the tower-attack/defence game Rock of Ages, and while you’re not chasing treasure hunters, you kind of get that same sense of danger and urgency.
Sadly as this scene was the beginning of the film, our rolling stone gathered no dead Harrison Ford, who was instead claimed by a younger version of Mick Jagger.
3. Ozma – Final Fantasy IX
Ozma is a really annoying case of what happens when you let the kids next door kick their football into your garden and you never lift a finger to go and save the kids from their ball-less fate. Ozma is a giant freakin’ ball, but is also known as an extra terrestrial. Yes, an alien ball who seems to have the powers of an Eidolon… It’s pretty mega when you think about it: One floating orb that can see your demise, just by basically being there. Even Hades who appears at the end of the game as a secret boss (with his own amazing battle music) will think twice about fighting you if you “defeat the round one”!
There are dragon kings who are destroyed by castles with wings. There’s a destroyer who is taken down in his father’s grand foyer. There’s a rusty guard and enemies who are very hard… But the hardest of all was a giant ball. Well, you’d better be well equipped if you’re going to face Ozma and for the love of all that is spherical, please do remember to do all of the Friendly Creatures side quests… Or else your knight in rusty armour certainly won’t be putting a dent on that monstrosity. Neither will your plucky thief protagonist either. I still can’t believe the super boss of Final Fantasy IX was a freakin’ ball. A bad ass ball.
2. The Master Ball – Pokemon
While the pokeball is an iconic symbol of the pokemon world, we couldn’t reasonably justify giving the common or garden pokeball a place in this list while the Master Ball exists. These handy, portable devices combine trap and carry-container for the living weapons that the pokemon trainer laughably calls his friends. They come in many varieties that improve with capacity, or specialise to certain types, but not one can match the ultimate in capture technology.
The Master Ball is incredibly rare, usually only one can be obtained per generation without some extreme gambling, but it is guaranteed to catch any pokemon in existence, no matter how strong it is… so long as the narrative will let you (no one can own Ghost Marrowak). It is the ultimate weapon, and its use must be chosen carefully. Well these days it does, Red and Blue it was pretty much there for Mewtwo.
1. Dragon Balls – DragonBall
Could any balls be more important than the elusive Dragon Balls? In DragonBall, the Dragon Balls are awesome – They also look really good and I’m sure would make a great addition to my collection of weirdly geeky objects. Nevertheless, the Dragon Balls are bright orange, have a star in them to indicate which ball it is and more important than all of that, is able to do some amazing things.
Put all of your balls together, friends. When you have grabbed enough balls and put them in one place, you are able to summon the mighty Shenron! Yes, these balls are so damn cool, they’re able to summon an enormous dragon! Even cooler than all of that, this dragon is able to talk to you and grant you a wish of your choice. This ball dragon from the Dragon Balls is able to command the power of the heavens and return those who died to their bodies, along with being able to save the world with powers incomprehensible to most people. Why, then, do villains often go for immorality? Why not just wish for your problems to go away? Stupid villains not knowing how to handle their balls properly.
With a big round world full of balls to choose from, is it any wonder that some of them just didn’t make the cut? But we’re not all that great at sticking to the whole Top “10” format, and once again in our own roundabout way we’ve managed to drop a couple of extra balls who are worthy of acknowledgement.
Yivo – Futurama
In the episode “The Beast with a Billion Backs”, Fry becomes a sort of priest, or a messenger of one they call Yivo. Yivo is love and life, s/he wants to accept everyone and thing into its loving embrace and to make all of the creatures happier and more love-stricken than ever before. War stops, people start to get over all of the problems in their worlds and the only things that couldn’t join were robots.
Yivo however wasn’t quite that loving. This large mass of a planet-like object was basically trying to get people to trust it. Yivo has had many loves in its life, but most notably, it was effectively having an affair with the entire known universe. It used tentacles to, shall we say, be ballsy with people. But remember everyone, you have to love the tentacle – Because trying to break up with Yivo is rather awkward.
BB-8 – Star Wars Ep VII
We couldn’t quite disqualify BB-8 on the grounds that he’s not a proper ball, but I’m afraid his hemispherical head does bump him off the list proper, we have to be fair to the real balls in this list. But that little roly-poly bundle of droid somehow managed to beat out R2-D2 in the voiceless personality competition, and is seemingly crammed with even more gadgets and tricks in his various compartments than a swiss army saber.
Ok, so he was obviously designed to pluck at the childish heartstrings and sell toys, but he’s not only the most entertaining part of Episode 7, but one must respect how he was accomplished using practical effects, it’s no mean feat to balance that head on a rolling ball. It’s even harder to make that rolling ball adorable.
We’ve seen balls of all shapes and sizes in this Top 10, from small balls to big balls, firm balls and soft balls. We’ve seen so many spherical objects, we’re now starting to think the planet is round, good grief, whatever next? But now, you need to save us from these… Balls… And tell us what we should write for our next Top 10?
And with that we are done. What did you think of our balls? Were they in the right order? Did you think we were missing any balls? I sure could do with a game of snooker right about now, but in the meantime, please do leave a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. Time for us to bounce on towards next week!