Review: Super Breakout by Atari Interactive
This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Good Games with Familiar Names. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Right before Atari Interactive released its own iPhone OS version of the classic block-breaking game Breakout, titled Super Breakout ($5), it sent its legal department after competing developers, recommending that they pull their semi-similar versions off the App Store. This was a bad move for Atari, which surely knows how Capcom famously lost a suit against Data East on a similar theory, and ultimately, bullying like that isn’t even necessary.
That’s because Atari’s Super Breakout is a legitimately better game. It includes real artwork, real music, and some cool iPhone OS-specific gameplay twists, all formulated with more thoughtfulness than the earlier Breakout-esque titles we’ve looked at. Every stage’s block pattern and background art are different and interesting, with randomizing touches such as unpredictable dropping power-up items and blocks that range from impervious to destructive of adjacent blocks. Visually, the levels progress in clusters through specific themes, starting with water, continuing with the earth, and working up to fire. There are boss encounters at the end of every cluster of levels, and in addition to just hitting a ball back with a paddle, you’ll occasionally need to flip the iPhone around to use the ball as a gravity-sensitive wrecking ball. EA’s Tetris has obviously inspired some novel classic game adaptations for the iPhone’s accelerometer.
There’s also a set of classic modes that let you play old-school versions of Breakout with a single paddle, or two paddles and two balls, each with intentionally primitive graphics; a two-player swap-off mode is also included. We’ve tried most of the other iPhone Breakout-alikes out there, and there’s no doubt that if you’re a fan of this genre of games, Atari’s version gives you the most to do. But it’s also not quite perfect. The transparent power-up icons are a little hard to see and distinguish, and though the action is a big step up from classic Breakout, the pacing isn’t as frenzied or exciting as Taito’s later, superior game Arkanoid. For $5, this is a very good title, but by reference to the best similar titles that succeeded Breakout, Super Breakout falls a little short of greatness. iLounge Rating: B+.