A 'Classic' Windows (tm) Shareware-ish game that is not in fact shareware but rather one component of the 1992 software product Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows (tm). The game is the original product of Dima Pavlovsky and is produced by Marjacq Micro Ltd., now simply called Marjacq.

Although it is a simple game in theory, it is found by some to be quite addictive. It consists mainly of a grey 2D arena filled with (X+1) bouncing red and white balls on each level X. The object is to reduce the size of Jezzball arena to less then 25% using wallbuilders.
This game is frighteningly addictive. The problem with it is that to get a score worth anything you have to play for hours and hours, sometimes days. The highest level you can get to is 49, at which point there are 50 balls on the screen.

The game is deceptively simple, and at first the strategy that you use will get you no further than level 10. This consists of catching balls in large traps and shrinking the traps around the balls. The problem with this is that when you get more than 9 or 10 balls on the screen it becomes impossible to build the initial traps.

A more refined method is to click once near the corner right along the side so the wall going down (or right, left, up or whatever) hits the wall then you move out just enough to allow two lines between the wall and the edge and start another wall. This will build a trap without you having to sacrifice a ball. This picture might make it make more sense.

  |
  |  Two black lines thick between the clicks.
  |   | *2
  |   |
  | {--} 
  | 
  |*1 
  |__________________
Click on 1 first, wait for the wall going down to form, then click 2.

Then you wait for a ball to come down your trap and once it hits the bottom click directly in the middle. It'll grab the ball without taking up any extra space. Then you just wait for the next one to come down. This allows you to get killer bonuses because you don't waste any space. With practice this becomes second nature.

Note: This becomes impossible at extremely high levels, where you must use much more difficult means to avoid sacrificing a ball. I haven't mastered this yet, but I've gotten it to work a few times. The kind of trap you form is the same and once you form it you continue to collect balls in the same way. It's just a different way of forming it. What you have to do is click two black lines away from the edge and at a very small height (assuming vertical traps) because of the number of balls moving around. But the tricky part is that you have to click at the exact moment that a ball is directly above (or below) your cursor. This stops the wall going up (or down). Again, this picture should help.

   |
   |  Two black lines thick.
   |  |
   |  |
   |  | o
   |  | *
   |{--}
   |_________________  

The hard part of course, is timing it so the ball blocks the wall moving up. This takes huge amounts of practice.

Two other notable things about this game: lives and physics. You begin each level with as many lives as there are balls in the arena, and the only thing you can ever sacrifice is a life. The idea behind the lives is that any time you try to build a wall, you are putting one or two of your lives on the line (one in each direction from where your mouse pointer appears in the arena). The walls, as you build them, are built at a fixed speed; if any ball hits one of your walls while you build it, your wall dies and you lose a life. As you approach higher and higher levels (e.g. 20+), it becomes effectively impossible to win without losing lives, because of the physics of the game.

The arena is a fixed size. The balls bounce at one of two set speeds (fast or slow). As the number of balls increases (each successive level adds one more ball to the arena, except 49->50 [see w/u by Enzondio above]), the pressure increases as well, so building a wall that crosses the entire arena becomes essentially impossible as the levels increase above 10. The physics model is similar to that of atoms in a fixedly-sized container, where having more atoms in the same space (and the atoms travel at a fixed pace) increases the pressure. Below I show the space where the game is played on level 6: "|" and "_" are the playing field, "X" is the background, a diamond is a ball; the lower right-hand corner is altered because it's supposed to look like a wall was built there as a trap, and one ball is already trapped there.

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Jezzball. Jezzball! You remember Jezzball. That once ubiquitous game, you just must love it. Either that or you abhor it to your very being. A giant in its own days, this simple addictive game is becoming more and more a rarity these days.

Jezzball was originally programmed by Dima Pavlovsky of Marjacq Micro Ltd. Windows bought the Jezzball trademark in 1992. It was incorporated and found almost exclusively in the ever-popular Microsoft Entertainment Pack, a compilation of dozens of simple games from Windows. It usually was packaged with new computers, most often with Windows 95, during the early and mid 1990s. The game was especially predominant in places of education, where not-so-studious students would ignore their important paragraph-formatting class in order to play the game or something similar, like Maxwell's Maniac (also fantastic) or the awful Skifree... It was always fun to log on to the computer and see if you can beat the high score of the user previous to you. Sadly, Microsoft discontinued the manufacturing of the Entertainment Pack with Jezzball in 1996. Since then, there have been no upgrades or new versions. The game can no longer be bought from Microsoft but is widely available on the internets.

The game itself is very simple. You begin with a rectangular playing area, about 30 by 20 boxes. Two balls bounce around in the rectangle. You may click anywhere in the playing area, in hopes of getting rid of excess area. One does this by making a vertical or horizontal line which isolates a portion of the rectangle which does not contain a Jezzball. This section disappears and adds a percentage to the area cleared meter at the botom of the game screen. If a ball comes in contact with the line as it spreads across the screen, that half of the line is destroyed and you lose a life. When you clear 75% of the area, you move on to the next level. There is also a timelimit in which you must complete this objective.

A level to life to Jezzball to time chart is included below:

| LEVEL  |  #LIVES  | #JEZZBALLS  |   TIME   |
|   1    |     2    |      2      |   1500   |
|   2    |     3    |      3      |   1800   |
|   3    |     4    |      4      |   2000   |
|   4    |     5    |      5      |   2300   |
|   5    |     6    |      6      |   2500   |

The above is a steady trend for the endurance of the game. I believe there are forty-nine levels of this madness.

Here is some information included with the game from Microsoft:

Overview

On a far-off world, a new kind of atom has been discovered. It's called a Jezz, and you get paid galactic credits each time you trap one for shipment back to Earth. The Jezz atoms preserve their energy best when tightly confined, so the smaller the chamber you trap them in, the more galactic credits you acquire. The game begins in a large capture chamber with two Jezz atoms bouncing around. With a click of the mouse, you can build a new chamber wall and trap the Jezz atoms in a smaller space. But be careful, if you don't build your wall completely across the chamber before it's hit by a Jezz atom, it won't withstand the impact. Be forewarned, JezzBall is not just challenging and great fun, but also strangely soothing and satisfying. Once you start trapping atoms, you won't want to stop!

Playing the Game

The object of JezzBall is to trap Jezz atoms in the smallest possible chambers. You make the chambers smaller with the wallbuilder. Watch the Jezz atoms closely. The challenge is to gauge enough time to anchor your wall on both sides of the chamber before it is struck by an atom. If only one side of your wall anchors before being hit by an atom, a partial wall is left behind but the cost is one chamber life. You advance to the next level when the walls you build reduce the chamber by at least 75 percent. If you reduce the chamber more than 75 percent, you are awarded extra points. Each time you advance a level, an additional Jezz atom is placed in the chamber. The more atoms you work with, the higher your points. If the atoms are moving too fast, you can slow them down, but you'll only earn half as many points.

There is a time limit for each game level in JezzBall. The more atoms at play in the capture chamber, the more time you are allotted for trapping them. The countdown clock is shown in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Scoring

JezzBall computes your score based upon how much of the capture chamber you can eliminate.

  • The chamber is divided into squares. You get points for each square that you eliminate, including those squares knocked out by the wallbuilder and empty areas that are cut off from the chamber. At the beginning level, with two atoms, and at slow speed, you receive 3.5 points for each square eliminated, 70 points for each vertical column, and 98 points for each horizontal column. At fast speed the points are doubled. The greater the number of atoms in the chamber, the more points you are awarded for each square that you eliminate.
  • Bonus points are awarded at the completion of each level based upon how completely you eliminated the squares of the capture chamber. The first level of bonus points is given for each percent of space eliminated above 80 percent. The second level of bonus points kicks in for each percentage eliminated above 90 percent. These bonus points increase according to how many atoms are in play.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many locations where one can find and enjoy Jezzball. Here are some happy fun hyperlinks:

  • http://www.jezzball.com/ They bought the domain, so it's worth checking out. I think...
  • http://www.schoolnet.ir/~hedayat/download/software/jezzball.exe Download the game right here! Exe file.
  • http://www.hallsted.com/jezzball.zip Download mirror. Zip file.
  • http://gameknot.net/games/jezzball/game.php Play Jezzball online with this neat webversion of the game!
  • http://www.bolaloca.com/way/cool/bl/play.html A different online Jezzball game.

    Please make me aware if any of these links do not work.

    Extra: during game play, press Control + Shift + F12 to skip a level. Yay.

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