BreakQuest: Extra Evolution, a Breakout clone, is a PlayStation Minis game from Beatshapers (the same wonderful people who brought us WizOrb, reviewed here). It’s the successor to the original 2004 Break Quest game from Nurium Games (also ported to PSP by Beatshapers). I took up my handy bat and ball to see what it was all about.
Just like every single Breakout clone in the history of video games, you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen, and bounce a ball around the screen to break every single block that you can see. And like many of the Arkanoid clones, you receive power-ups and power-downs every now and again. What sets BreakQuest Extra Evolution apart from other Breakout clones is that BreakQuest features fairly realistic physics. This becomes far more evident when you receive power-ups that change the shape of your paddle or the shape of the ball. When you’ve tried bouncing a square ball around the playing field a few times, you’ll know what I’m talking about!
Initially, the game gives you access to any one of ten level tiers (vertically). Finishing a level unlocks the next one in its horizontal sequence, until you get to a boss fight at the end, ten levels later. Clearing the boss gives you access to new paddles with new powers that you can use in other levels. Do the math, and you’ll end up with 100 levels in all. There’s also one hidden level for a grand total of 101. That’s a lot of gaming right there.
What makes Break Quest: Extra Evolution so interesting, realistic physics aside, is that, unlike many other Breakout clones, the bottom of the screen is not completely open: there’s an ever-recharging barrier that you can deploy to keep the ball in play. This makes for an overall less frustrating game, thankfully. Another nice factor in the gameplay is the Gravitor, which basically pulls the ball in the direction of the paddle. This allows you to tweak the ball’s trajectory, turning Break Quest into much more of a game of strategy and skill than pure luck on the paddle.
Graphics wise, the game features retro-style 8-bit graphics. It’s a little jarring to see this sort of graphics paired with realistic motion, but you get used to it quickly. What I loved is that each level is completely different to every other level, both in terms of layout and in terms of presentation. It’s not always immediately obvious which screen elements are meant to be broken, but you figure it out fairly quickly once you launch that ball. The music is brilliant, and composed by Russian group SandS. Oddly enough, despite the graphics, the music itself isn’t retro, but pretty good gentle electronica. It’s worth a listen to.
I really enjoy my Breakout games, and BreakQuest Extra Evolution is an awesome example of the genre. It doesn’t just take the tired old “paddle and ball” and run with it, it changes the nature of the genre. You could say, I guess, that it’s a kind of evolution. Each level is definitely a work of art in its own right (as I’m sure you can tell by the screenshots), and it’s the kind of you play to relax. The music is soothing and the gameplay isn’t going to make you throw your controller or portable console across the room, a problem I’ve had with some Breakout clones in the past. Because each level is different both graphically and musically, you’re getting a treat every time you unlock one of the game’s many levels. And although Minis games don’t have PSN Trophies attached, BreakQuest Extra Evolution contains a list of awards that gamers can aim toward. Overall, it’s a hell of a fun game, and for the price, a decent amount of gaming.
Final Score: 8 block bustin’ prawns out of 10
Developer: Beatshapers Ltd
Publisher: Beatshapers Ltd
Distributor: Sony Entertainment Network
Platform: Minis (PS3, PSP, and PS Vita)
Age Rating: E