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Korbat's Lab v. Frumball - The Ultimate Showdown


by trypanophobia

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So, you’re browsing through the games room and all of a sudden, you feel the urge to hit some bricks with a ball and a paddle. Which game will best satisfy this need? That’s where it gets complicated. In Neopia, there are TWO such games: Frumball, and Korbat’s Lab. Which one is better? I’m going to find out!

As a trophy holder in both games (silver in Frumball and gold in Korbat’s Lab), I have had ample opportunity to compare the two, and I know I have a personal favorite.

In this article, the two games will go head to head in various important categories as we find out which one is the better brick-smashing game and which one falls short.

Ball: Both games feature your basic small, round ball, which you bounce off of the bat to break bricks. Not many differences here.

Bat: While Korbat’s Lab features your classic flat, rectangular bat, Frumball comes with a little twist. The bat in Frumball is dome shaped. The ease with which a ball you THINK you have set up for a clever edge bounce can JUST miss your bat and fall to its doom makes this shape extremely frustrating, but the shape of the bat also lends itself to some great narrow-angle bounces if you can land them. Overall, Korbat’s Lab provides a reliable classic, while Frumball offers the potential for some unexpected bounces.

Bricks: Korbat’s Lab features traditional large, square bricks, while Frumball uses circular bricks. The circular bricks are a lot of fun – they cause the ball to bounce in unexpected ways so that you need to be constantly on your toes. It also helps that the Frumball bricks are multi-colored. When you’re playing for trophies, every bit of entertainment helps.

On the other hand, while both games have some bricks with multiple hit points, in Korbat’s Lab they change color as you hit them so you always know how many more hits you need. Korbat’s Lab also contains some special bricks, like bomb bricks and flame bricks, which Frumball lacks. These special bricks lead to the development of some levels which take a surprising amount of logical reasoning to clear.

Power-Ups: Both games have the classic power-ups: those which make the ball faster and slower, those which make you skip to the next level, those which give you additional points or extra lives, those which render your ball an indestructible force which plows through any block in its path without being deflected. You get the idea. Unlike Korbat’s Lab, Frumball also has a plethora of entertaining power-ups beyond these basic ones, such as the one which causes a chokato to fall from the top of the screen, or the one which causes your ball to bounce in random(er) directions when it contacts a surface.

While Frumball certainly has the advantage in powerup variety, the Korbat’s Lab powerups are much more sensibly labelled. Korbat’s Lab power-ups fall as potions with illustrations on them, and the bonus points fall as coins, while the Frumball powerups and bonuses are all denoted by a single letter in a ball. Combine that with the huge number of powerups and the speed at which the balls fall, and it can be very hard to know what a given Frumball powerup is before you collect it. I’m looking at you, P which stands for “speed.” Yes, you. Somehow, no matter how many times this powerup kills me, I continue to collect it thinking that it must stand for something helpful and cool which starts with P.

Levels: Both games have enough levels to keep you busy for at least an hour. Korbat’s Lab has 50, which appear in a random order after the first three, and Frumball has a currently uncounted number.

Easter Eggs: Both Korbat’s Lab and Frumball have a code to give an extra life and a code to skip the level. In Frumball, however, the latter resets your score, while in Korbat’s Lab, you keep all your points. This gives Korbat’s Lab a clear advantage, especially when you’re playing to the end and there’s one block in the corner that you just can’t seem to touch. Korbat’s Lab also has a code to turn the game black and white, as well as a code which releases an explosion of dozens of balls. Korbat’s Lab has a clear advantage here.

Enemies: Frumball has no enemies, while Korbat’s Lab has a host of the namesake Korbats and even some Spyders which will swoop down unpredictably to deflect your ball. In Frumball, it’s just you, the ball, and some odd powerups, while in Korbat’s Lab, the random element introduced by the enemies can throw off even the most well-placed shot.

Controls: In Frumball, the paddle is controlled with the mouse, while in Korbat’s Lab, the arrow keys are used. This is really a matter of personal preference.

Amenities: The pause button on Korbat’s Lab is certainly appreciated, especially during long sessions of playing, as is the mechanism for rescuing stuck balls, though admittedly the crazy bounces in Frumball make it much less likely that a ball will get stuck.

Rewards: Since game ratios are always changing, which game will make you more NP depends on the month. One important point, though, is that Korbat’s Lab is the only one which will give you an avatar. So if you’re a collector, Korbat’s Lab has a clear advantage over Frumball.

Difficulty: It’s hard to tell which game is harder. Since the scoring system is different (5 points per block in Frumball versus 10 points per block in Korbat’s Lab) and the games differ in several other respects, it’s all a matter of personal perspective. Personally, I find Korbat’s Lab easier.

So, which game really is better? It really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a classic game with plenty of levels and an adherence to the tried and true formula, give Korbat’s Lab a try. If you’re tired of playing the classic-style game and want something a little more adventurous, maybe give Frumball a try. Either way, with enough practice, a shiny trophy is very achievable, and possibly an avatar too.

 
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