Game Over Online ~ Breakout

GameOver Game Reviews - Breakout (c) Hasbro Interactive, Reviewed by - Neil McCauley

Game & Publisher Breakout (c) Hasbro Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 67%
Date Published Monday, September 25th, 2000 at 09:00 PM

Divider Left By: Neil McCauley Divider Right

When Hasbro Interactive and Atari remade Pong, you knew Breakout couldn't be far behind it. Originally designed to act as a single player sequel of sorts, Breakout was just as simple and addictive, not to mention popular, as Pong. Fast-forward twenty-plus years and Breakout makes its 3D debut in this completely redesigned edition of the arcade classic. Blast your way through bricks, barriers and barricades in this… love story?

Breakout opens with a cute introductory scene featuring Bouncer and his buddies having a beach party. Bouncer, for those wondering what I'm talking about, is the main paddle, errr… character in Breakout. To make a long and relatively wacky story short, Batnik, the evil paddle, crashes the party and captures Bouncer's friends, including his girlfriend Daisy. Batnik drags Bouncer off to prison as he proclaims the world as his.

You play the roll of Bouncer as you begin the game in prison. Your first objective, once you complete the training mission, is to breakout (pardon the pun) of your cell and fight through a number of levels in order to find and rescue your friends from the evil Batnik. Once out of the prison, you'll progress to some Egyptian pyramids. From there, you'll hit a farm, a castle, a factory, and finish up in space for the climatic finale with Batnik himself. Each of the 6 distinct areas features between 4-6 levels, adding up to approximately 30 levels in total. As you complete each area, you rescue one of your friends. You can switch and become any one of the paddles/characters you rescue during the game.

The level design in Breakout is well varied. They've mixed in some of the original brick and block smashing levels with others offering puzzles, and still some featuring bosses. They've even tossed in a few chase-based levels where you have to run around and avoid obstacles. One of the main problems I had with Breakout was the lack of overall difficulty. I was able to breeze through many of the levels and complete the game in a single day. Most of the levels are simply too easy, although that's not to say that some aren't challenging at all. The pipe puzzle levels, for example, are extremely difficult. You really have to master control of the paddle on such a level, but why the Robot boss at the end of the factory level wasn't harder is beyond me. I was able to defeat him with little to no resistance. Too many levels in Breakout offer little resistance and that is a shame. You can change your Ranking at the beginning of the game, which is basically a difficulty setting and features 7 different levels, but it didn't seem to do enough to create trouble. The Ranking also alters itself as you progress through the areas, in an attempt to match your skill level.

Breakout offers plenty of diversity when it comes to ball types and power-ups. Everything from massive paddles to fireballs to dual and quadruple balls is available. You can collect power-ups and select which you'd like to use at certain moments, but unfortunately you can't carry power-ups from one level to the next, so make sure you use any special items you manage to grab throughout each level. There are also little tricks you can perform with your paddles such as angling and curving. These manoeuvres allow you to better control the balls that deflect off your paddle and you'll need to learn each of these tricks if you want to complete some of the puzzles in the game.

The visuals in Breakout are very colourful, although unspectacular. Supporting resolutions up to 1024x768, the detail level could have been a little better (although how much detail do you need to draw a paddle and a few blocks?), but the interactive environments are solid none the less. In terms of the audio, the effects are rather generic but the music is upbeat and goes hand-in-hand with the style of play. Breakout supports multiplayer via hot seat only, where up to four players can challenge each other on the same computer.

When the sun sets and the day is done, this newly redesigned edition of Breakout is a fun little game. Unfortunately, the emphasis in that sentence is placed on 'little'. Breakout is a little too short and sweet, due to the relative ease of many of the levels found in the game. The mixture of ball types and power-ups, along with the level design, certainly helps create a varied gaming experience, but unless you're a big fan of the original Breakout, this particular edition isn't addictive enough to overcome the overall lack of gameplay.


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