Offering something new for something so familiar.
Breakout, Arkanoid, Hyperball. These are the three games that spring to mind when I consider the genre in which Block Breaker 3 Unlimited from Gameloft resides. But there have been so many of these games over the years, dating back to the very birth of video games. The premise in all of them is more or less the same – the player moves a “bat” to bounce a ball and destroy blocks. It is that simple.
With this in mind, I was kind of prepared to be unimpressed with this Gameloft title, partly because I had seen it all before and partly because I was concerned about the control method on the iPad 2. There are two ways to control the bat, touch or tilt. The touch control method I found to be overly sensitive when, by touching either side of the screen, my bat would zip across and invariably miss the ball altogether. But I have to say that the tilt control, with the player simply tilting the iPad to the left or right to move the bat, worked incredibly well, offering what seemed to be more control. I will be honest and say that I expected things to be the other way around.
Beginning the game, the player is greeted by bright colours, fast music and the subtle way in which the game ties together all of the levels. The player is the challenger and will face off against various bosses by slowly working through their levels until reaching them. These bosses will greet the player and then explain, in no uncertain terms, how they have no chance in hell of beating them and progressing. It is all very tongue-in-cheek and largely pointless, but fun nonetheless.
The game begins proper and it is business as usual – to begin with. Using he platform at the bottom of the screen, the player launches and rebounds balls in order to remove all of the blocks. Some of the blocks will drop power-ups when hit, such as lasers or extra balls. There may also be an enemy on the screen which the player will have to dispatch by hitting them with the ball.
Things start getting different when it becomes apparent that the goal is not to remove all of the bricks on the screen, but to reach the giant star which is sitting on another screen. In an exciting twist on the usual Breakout formula, Block Breaker 3 Unlimited is played across multiple screens, with tunnels or doorways leading to the other screens. The player must work their up, or sideways, through the various screens until reaching the giant star. In a lot of ways, this actually makes the game easier, as the players ball will sometimes just drop down to a previous screen if missed, rather than forcing the loss of life. This gives the entire game a Pinball-esque feeling.
Block Breaker 3 Unlimited doesn’t really get any deeper than that. It may not reinvent the genre, but it certainly offers an interesting twist on those games that have come before with the multi-screened levels. it is also one of the best examples of the genre that I have seen. The game is incredibly well polished, has crisp, bright visuals and an upbeat soundtrack, and has a great pick up and play feel. That is not to say that the game is easy, some of the levels begin with bricks very close to the bottom of the screen that can frustratingly cause the player to lose lives if they are not on their toes. But that’s all part of the challenge, I guess.
If breaking blocks is your thing and you need some action on your iOS device, then this is no doubt the game for you. However, if you just feel like revisiting a genre from your gaming youth to see how much it has evolved, Block Breaker 3 Unlimited may surprise you, but not as much as you would think. It is a great game with some neat twists, but it is in no way original.
Block Breaker 3 Unlimited is available on the App Store for just £0.69