Don't you remember playing Breakout for hours on end as a kid? The game was so beautifully simple, primitive even, that the fact that it had no music was even a non-issue. The monotone sound of the ball busting bricks became a tune all it's own, and it didn't matter: All you cared about was keeping that ball bouncing and breaking blocks. Sadly, that brilliant simplicity feels more like an incomplete game with Breakout Boost for iPhone and iPad.
Atari struck gold with Asteroids Gunner recently, somehow building upon a classic while maintaining the integrity of the original. Breakout Boost, available for free on the App Store (more on that later), sticks entirely too close to the 35-year-old source material. This homage to the OG of ball-breakers developed by SixHourSoft features no music, graphics that come nowhere close to what even older iOS devices are capable of and only five stinking levels available for free.
Yes, Breakout Boost is free to download because it offers just five levels from the start. The other 200 plus levels are available in in three separate booster packs, each requiring a $.99 purchase for about 80 more levels on average. Granted, those booster packs come with enticing features like brand new balls: the Acid Ball, Grenade Ball and 4x Splitting Ball. (The Fire Ball and 2x Splitting Ball are in the game's five free levels.)
There's nothing wrong with this business model--it's become the norm in iPhone games. And we even get the idea behind offering a few levels for free: They're designed to hook the player and drive them to pay. The problem is those five levels aren't nearly exciting enough to get this writer to put up the buck. Frankly, if more levels were offered for free at the start--and within a prettier package--it might just be enough to buy, say, access to the Grenade Ball at random in levels.
The main draw of Breakout Boost is the Boost Meter, which does serve to mix things up a bit ... if you want it to. At any time during play, you can slide the meter higher to increase the game's overall speed. This multiplies the points you earn, but it instantly becomes a more difficult game to manage. Of course, the inverse happens when you bring the meter down further than normal. When we first heard of Breakout Boost, we expected "Boost" to imply a lot more across the board for Breakout--not just some slide meter.
Thankfully, SixHourSoft included both OpenFeint and Game Center support for Breakout Boost, both of which allow players to earn achievements and brag about them to their friends. Of course, leaderboards are supported as well. Aside from that, there is no multiplayer support in this tribute to the video game icon. Some type of battle mode, similar to what Tetris Online has done with Tetris Battle on Facebook (but local/online and without the Facebook), would have been brilliant in this game.
Look, we get the developer's dedication to the source material, and could even understand its desire to remain as retro as possible--wait until you see the font. But games like Asteroids Gunner and Tetris Battle have shown that it's possible to take creative liberties with a deeply respected franchise and still come out with something that evokes the warm and fuzzies of the original. We can't exactly recommend buying the $.99 booster packs, but you may as well try the game for free. Just don't expect to have your fun levels boosted through the roof.
Click here to download Breakout Boost for Free Now >
Are you a Breakout fan from the '70s or '80s? Is this approach to the game enough for you, or were you expecting more in 2011, too? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.