Breakfinity Review

Breakfinity Review

Apr 21, 2014

The problem with the Flappy Bird craze, at least for developers, is that so many of them decided to capitalize on the craze of the game and its eventual removal by making more games about flapping. What few realized is that they should be making games that capitalize on its key values: short, challenging games with high replay value that can be played with one hand. That’s what Phil Hassey, creator of Galcon and dynamite Jack, has done with Breakfinity.

Breakfinity-5

This is a brick-breaking game not dissimilar to Breakout and Arkanoid, with a twist: the game is endless. Patterns of blocks will constantly descend from the sky, and players must constantly bounce a ball off of the paddle at the bottom to break the blocks, with a new formation arriving once the block hits the top. Along the way, players can pick up powerups to do things like extend their paddle, fire lasers, and send the formation back to the top. As well, 3-hit blocks can be broken that give players a gem, which can be used to continue one’s game.

Breakfinity succeeds because it’s fast and challenging. This is a well-worn concept, but presented in a way that’s meant to test the player. The game picks up in speed quickly, and survival requires quick thinking and reflexes. Thankfully, the controls, which work great with one thumb and have sensitivity settings, make this a perfect game to play one-handed, great for when on public transit. Sessions are usually short enough that it’s easy to come back to again and again whenever there’s a free moment. With these short sessions and the well-known style of play, this has that sensation of “I know I can do better if I play again” that makes for an incredibly-replayable game.

The Android version is lacking a few features from its iOS counterpart. Google Play Games features are not integrated, so there’s no high score leaderboards for comparing scores with friends in an easy way. There’s also no in-app purchases for buying more gems instantly. There are still the ads for getting a free ball right away. Interestingly, this system is best used by spending gems to buy earlier continues, then using the free ball last. While the gem system does make the high scores impure in a sense, that it’s possible to just stockpile gems for them, the costs to continue get so untenable that it’s still a fair skill barometer.

Breakfinity is a must-have free download. The fast Breakout action feels great, and makes high scores rewarding, and the game is perfectly designed to be picked up and played whenever, wherever.

DeathMetal HD Review

The first thing that drew me to DeathMetal HD was the title. After all, I do love me some death metal. All the screaming and blast beats find a way to satisfy me and my cold, black heart. Now, the game features not a lot in the way of death metal: there’s some heavy riffs that get involved in the menu and when powerups are activated, but this is really just a grungy-looking Breakout-style brick-breaking game. I mean grungy-looking not to say that it’s ugly, or that it looks like grunge music, but that it looks like it takes place in a dirty factory.

The core of the game is really quite familiar: paddle at bottom, bricks at top, ball somewhere hopefully between the two. Powerups for making the ball turn into fire (and unleash some metal riffs straight from hell), increase the paddle size, and make it magnetic are available, along with powerdowns like speed-ups, paddle shrinkers, and ball shrinkers. No one likes shrinkage.

Now, where DeathMetal HD succeeds is that it has a brilliant control scheme: because the game takes place in landscape instead of portrait like many games of the same genre, it has the ability to use a two-thumbs virtual button scheme. The left thumb moves left, the right thumb moves right. There’s also a swipe control by touching the paddle directly, and tilt controls available. But having these thumb controls makes the game just feel infinitely better than many games in portrait that just use swipe controls.

That may be the most interesting part of the game: there’s not a whole lot to make it stand out, it’s an otherwise fine Breakout-alike. The worlds are long, and it’s not possible to continue progress mid-world from where a game ends. So expect to replay the early levels a lot if shooting for progression; playing it as a high score game appears to be the real aim.

While DeathMetal HD could use more death metal and a few tweaks, its control scheme alone makes it a satisfying brick breaking game.

Neon Blaster Review

Neon Blaster Review

Apr 25, 2012

Despite the hype on fast, high-definition graphics in games, there are a select few who prefer simple, minimalist interfaces when killing time with their smart phones. With too many games in Google Play, it’s hard to find that one game that suits a minimalist gamer. Enter Neon Blaster – a futuristic arcade game inspired by the 80’s Atari creation, Arkanoid. With its Tron-esque graphics and retro appeal, this game is a gem among a huge pile of stones.

The objective of the game is to prevent the ball from falling by catching it with the paddle and hitting the bricks. When a brick or group of bricks get hit, they disappear. When all bricks are cleared, the player moves on to the next round.

The game has two modes: Campaign and Arcade. Campaign is a series of levels with different brick patterns – when bricks are cleared in one level, the player moves on to the next. Arcade mode allows for endless game play, with new bricks added as other bricks disappear. In any mode, special balls appear from the bricks that, when catched, changes the abilities of the paddle. A fire ball transforms the ball into fire and hits more bricks than usual; a shooter ball installs a rifle-like structure in both sides of the paddle, enabling it to shoot the bricks above. There are also a few balls that should not be catched, such as the skull ball that “kills” the paddle and ends the game, or the shrink ball that makes the paddle smaller.

The game force-closed a few times when I first tried it, but killing some apps and disconnecting from the Internet seemed to fix that problem. This may not be an issue with the game, but with my device. When I got the game working again, it worked absolutely fine. The game controls only compose of sliding the paddle left and right using a blank space below. It works responsively enough, but a player might sometimes hit the Menu key accidentally if he slides too far down the screen. This causes the game to pause, which can be really annoying.

The graphics, on the other hand, are a delight to play in. Clutter-free and sleek with its glowing edges, the elements seem to hypnotize and stimulate at the same time – if that makes sense at all. Given the simplicity of the interface, the player can focus more on keeping the paddle in the right position at the right time and avoiding any unwanted killer balls while keeping the main ball afloat.

The sound effects are also very subtle and does not really distract from the game, in fact it does a great job of highlighting the action on screen and translating it to sound effects. However, if one finds the sounds abrasive, it can be turned off on the game’s Settings page.

Another thing I liked about this game is that it’s ad-free. No annoying ads popping up anywhere on the screen. There’s also no option to share one’s scores on social networks so that’s one unnecessary and often unused feature off the list.

To sum it up, Neon Blaster is a minimalist, retro arcade game with nice graphics and a fairly smooth interface. It may not be for everyone, but for people who were fans of the original Arkanoid game, this game is a great way to relive that experience.

Block Breaker 3 Unlimited Review

Block Breaker 3 Unlimited Review

Sep 19, 2011

The classic ball & paddle game sure has come a long way since Tennis for Two, evolving into Pong and other games such as Breakout and Arkanoid. As those games pass ever further into history, new games crop up that take the classic gameplay and add new features. Just simply breaking blocks is no longer enough to make a game interesting. As Block Breaker 3 Unlimited reveals, sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks.

More like Arkanoid than Breakout, Block Breaker 3 Unlimited has you breaking blocks arranged in patterns while enemy creatures float about the stage, grabbing the ball and firing it back at you. Meanwhile, certain blocks drop power-ups that can either help, or hurt, your efforts to break all of the blocks. So far, none of that is new. However, as you play through each level, the game begins to take on more of its own identity.

One thing that makes Block Breaker 3 Unlimited unique is that each level is arranged in multiple spaces connected by tubes. When you’ve met a certain condition in one space, a gate opens to give the ball access to a tube which pulls it into another space. Suddenly, you have new creatures to battle, more blocks to break and more power-ups to catch. But the challenge also increases as you still have the same, limited number of lives.

As a timer counts down, you’re helpless to go back and pick off the blocks you missed in previous areas. From there on out, you have no choice but to continue on as you try to survive while striving towards a 3-star rating at the end of each level. You’re also looking to take as many balls with you to raise a score multiplier, either by catching a “triple ball” power-up or by locking balls in holding slots and getting to the end. All of this is setting you up for another unique feature: boss fights.

The levels are arranged in groups called “locations.” For example, the first location is a “club” setting with a very Lady Gaga-esque character (complete with background music which, much to my chagrin, sounds like a take on one of Lady Gaga’s “hits”) who taunts you and belittles you when you fail to pass a level. Defeat her boss, earn a special new perk and move on to the next location. However, the game still isn’t over, even after you’ve defeated all of the bosses.

There are multiple modes of play, secret levels and a level generator. Of course, there’s a social aspect with links to post achievements on Facebook. In addition, there are perks you can purchase to help you in the game — although, my one major gripe is that the perk system doesn’t seem to make much sense. I tried adding new perks, but it never seemed to work for me.

As you can see, in Block Breaker 3 Unlimited, the classic ball and paddle game has been given a serious upgrade with plenty of glitz and glamor for a solid experience, despite one flawed perks system.