AGH Review: Breakout (Playstation)

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After the success that Pong enjoyed on the PC and Sony PlayStation, it was only a matter of time until its close cousin — Breakout was revived by Atari. Thankfully, this game has been updated nicely and should please both classic gaming fans and newly christened game-players

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In Breakout, our hero breaks free from his cell and sets upon a path to rescue his Bat and Ball friends, destroy the Evil Pung and rescue the curvaceous Ping. Guess what the hero’s name is. You guessed it, it’s Pong! The game has you taking control across ten different locales from a Dark Prison cell to a Dragon-owned castle, a gadget laden laboratory to the Stormy Seas. Gamers can expect to be wowed by constant surprises, chased down by a giant wolf, finally knocking down that leaning
Tower of Pisa, descending into the dark depths of a mysterious Egyptian tomb and going head-to-head with a Red Dragon (no, it’s nothing like the “duck” in 2600 Adventure. Hey, now there’s a great game that should be updated!.) However, once the evil Pung is destroyed and the world is made safe again, the destruction continues. When home alone, countless challenge modes open up secrets and bonuses. When friends abound, you can challenge them to a neat multiplayer gamefest.

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The developer of Breakout is Supersonic Software, the same team responsible for the critically acclaimed Pong. Given how Breakout is similar in play mechanics to PONG, and considering the amount of
care and effort that Supersonic put into the latter, you would expect that the revamped Breakout would offer simple gameplay with the depth and technological excellence demanded by today’s game players. Breakout is both mouse and JogCon compatible — something that Pong could have sorely used. Up to four players can enjoy the game with the PSX multitap adapter.

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The standard one-player game has a strong narrative structure – with the story line fleshed out and tied to the gameplay.After the intro story, the game opens with Pong in his prison cell. He must use his “Breakout” skills to escape this jail and in doing so he completes the first chapter of our tale.
From here on the game is made up of “chapters.” These are like short stories in that they do not have to be “read” (or played) in a particular order. What they have in common is that Pong must play through them towards their conclusion of him rescuing one of his imprisoned friends and gaining a reward.The final chapter of the game involves Pong using all his skills and powers he has gained during the rest of the game to defeat the evil Pung and rescue Ping.

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In the Challenge Play, a number of levels from each chapter is designed in such a way that a variety of games can be played in it. Typically this will involve tweaking various aspects of gameplay (number of blocks, number of balls, etc.) and adding new elements. The player will be able to go back to any level he has beaten during the narrative of the game to play these other variations. The one player game will involve 8-10 chapters (including intro and end game), around 20-30 unique levels and upwards of 60-100 unique challenges available duriing “Challenge Play.” Finally, in addition the player will be able to play classic arcade “Breakout.” This will be accessible “out of the box” and will include additional “museum” information about the game.

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As the player progresses through Breakout, he will be rewarded with bonus bats and balls. These can be used in subsequent levels, bringing a further depth to the gameplay. PONG, as well as moving, can on occassion during a level bring in one of his rescued friends to help for a limited period of time. Hitting a “gold brick” activates these. On hitting a gold brick you get an opportunity to swap to one
of your “reward” bats or balls. When you choose to use a bonus ball or bat, they are, of course, only active for a limited period of time.

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The real treat, however, happens when four players simultaneously join in on the action, choosing from two different competitive modes.The first type has split-screen levels and requires the foes to
simultaneously clear their arenas while also having to attack their opponents by sending over blocks. All on-screen levels involve Pong-like gameplay, where opponents must simultaneously defend their blocks while attacking their opponents.

Basically, if you enjoyed Pong, Breakout will provide you with similar thrills. The game has kept the same whimsical nature of Pong, and the elements which made Pong so popular are also carried over in Breakout.

Title Breakout
Publisher Atari
System Sony Playstation
Graphics 7
Sound 6
Gameplay 8
Overall 8
Reviewer Keita Iida