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.


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.

Blocks Away Review

Blocks Away Review

Sep 3, 2013

I start to think that the classic arcades like Tetris and Breakout and such, aren’t actually as fun as they seem to be. I mean, this is coming from someone who once spent five consecutive hours playing Tetris. I just think that these games are as fun as trying to spin a pen between the fingers. It’s a bit more interesting than doing nothing, and it requires a lot of skills to be perfect at – but it certainly doesn’t count as an exactly outstanding experience. I’m still baffled with the infinitely complex human brain that finds fun in placing, or eliminating blocks together. And that’s precisely the gameplay of Blocks Away. If this game would be any more minimalistic, it would be a flashlight app.

Blocks Away 2In Blocks Away, the player is tasked with removing ever-spawning blocks from the screen, for a minute. The blocks can be removed when there are two or more of them touching together, by tapping on any one of them. The high score is determined by how many blocks are cleared in the time, but the players should be careful so as not to tap on the single blocks. Tapping on them will result in a score penalty, and will render the block completely inert, weighing down the whole level progress. If the game is going good, there are three different power-ups that can help it go even better to beat the score. They can be purchased from the store, using in-game money that are collected via block elimination. Or, of course, spending the real-world money.

Blocks Away definitely suffers from lack of content and different game modes. Perfecting the simple skill of detecting and eliminating the blocks is very interesting, but it would be even more interesting if it varied a bit. Say, I definitely wouldn’t mind against an endless mode of some sort, or some bonus cubes to spawn from time to time. It’s a very minimalistic experience, where beating one’s own high-score is the only driving force behind the gameplay. Still, it’s quite fun, and it’s free, so I don’t see a problem with trying it out, as minimalistic remakes of classic arcades are often fun, and work quite well.

Breakeroids Review

Breakeroids Review

Aug 15, 2013

Asteroids was an arcade game in the time when arcade games were a thing, rather than an obsolete, and incredibly vague genre definition. It was released by Atari in the ancient time of 1979, and was such a huge hit that Atari almost scrapped all of its other projects, concentrating on meeting the ridiculous demands on Asteroids. Although the game didn’t feature any iconic characters, or locations, its success was an important part in the video game industry becoming what it is now – an industry. Additionally, this game created a shoot-em-up genre that’s presented in huge numbers on the mobiles of today. Thus, it’s still warm in the collective memory of video game fans, and there are some people who actually draw inspiration from its simple, neon-like design. There are also some people who take it and smash against another classic Atari video game for kicks, like the ones that made Breakeroids.

breakeroids 1Breakeroids is absurdly simple, yet still interesting. It’s a mash-up between Breakout and Asteroids, and that’s it. The player controls a platform at the bottom of the screen, and has to launch a ball to smash the asteroids that are flying randomly at the top. Asteroids can’t reach the platform, though it still can be destroyed by a flying saucer that comes every once in a while and shoots lasers at it. At times, some power-ups and downs fall from the top of the screen, and can be caught, or evaded by the platform.

When all of the asteroids and their chunks are destroyed, a new level is generated with some new asteroids. Breakeroids doesn’t try to surprise anyone, and only features the core gameplay of both arcade classics. The only real advancement that it has is an ability to restart the game from the latest wave, rather than from the beginning. It features same vector shapes and pre-8-bit sound design, so I’d say it has a very distinct, if unusual, style.

Minimalism of Breakeroids is both its main feature, and its primary flaw. It’s really quite repetitive, although it does trigger a trance-like peace of mind, prompting the player to play it on and on, until the end of time comes – or phone’s battery dies. It’s a ghost of the times past, and I’d only suggest picking it in the case of extreme nostalgia, or desire to see how the games were played in the age of Jimmy Carter and Margaret Thatcher. That said, Breakeroids is quite good.

TNNS Review

TNNS Review

Nov 20, 2012

TNNS is Action Button Entertainment’s second game and first Android title, co-created with Rabbx. Those who recall my Ziggurat review (due to the original publisher folding, the game’s been re-released as a self-published title now with widescreen support) will know that I loved the game except for one thing: the controls. Well, history repeats itself.

This is a take on the classic Pong and Breakout formula, where the goal is to break blocks by bouncing balls off of the block at the bottom. The twist is literal: the balls can be bent in any direction or sped up by moving the finger in the desired direction during the slowdown period after the ball is hit.

This mechanic gives the game a unique feel, and it makes it feel like the player has more of a say over what is happening; a perfectly-bent shot is like nothing else. The goal is to hit the star box in each level to complete it, and with hundreds of level segments appearing in random order, each time feels different. Oh, and there’s same-device multiplayer for that true Pong action, in both TNNS enhanced mode, and a classic no-frills mode as well.

But oh, much like Ziggurat, my frustration with the controls is the one thing holding me back from truly, truly loving this game. The paddle controls are all 1:1, which allows for bending of the ball as it hits off the paddle to work extremely well. But it seems like there’s just not enough room for the player’s thumb to maneuver the paddle without obscuring things. This is because due to the ‘waggle’ mechanic, there’s just too much two-dimensional movement of the thumb to not often be blocking something. It’s especially noticeable on the iPad. Even on a widescreen device, it still feels like there’s just too much obscurity, in a literal sense. I played this game on 6 different devices across iOS and Android, and I only really felt somewhat comfortable on the Motorola Xoom, a 16:10 10.1″ tablet. Seriously. Perhaps if the game gave players three lives to play with instead of just one, so that mistakes didn’t feel like end of the world, then the game would be a lot more fun.

Someday, I’m sure that the creative ideas of Action Button Entertainment will come in a package that I will truly appreciate the controls for, and I will love it unequivocally. Maybe next time.

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.

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.

Ninja Breakout Premium Review

Ninja Breakout Premium Review

Sep 2, 2011

You may not realize it, but pandas have a long-standing feud with ninjas. These two factions have been locked in an epic battle on the Android Market for some time now, and their war has raged onto the battlefield of Ninja Breakout Premium.

You may have already guessed by the name, but Ninja Breakout Premium borrows its gameplay mechanics from the arcade classic Breakout. You use a paddle carried by a sumo-panda to bounce smaller pandas up at the block-ninjas. Don’t be fooled – this game isn’t just a rehash of a game you’ve played a thousand times before. Ninja Breakout Premium sets itself apart in a few significant ways.

The levels don’t contain nearly as many blocks as Breakout (or other similar games for that matter) did, but those blocks are made out of different materials. Some of them only take one shot to break, some take multiple shots, and some can’t be broken with a normal panda (ball), which brings us to the other major difference between Ninja Breakout Premium and Breakout – power ups and power downs.

As you break blocks, various power ups and power downs will drop. Each item effects the paddle or the ball in a different way. For example, one power up lights the ball on fire, giving it a wider area of effect, while another makes the paddle smaller. The effects of the various items can be stacked, which can lead to some crazy scenarios like two flaming balls zipping around the screen.

There’s just one shortcoming in this otherwise enjoyable game – the controls. After dying, or when using a power up that makes the ball stick to the paddle, you have to tap the ball to launch it. That means you have to take your finger off of the panda under the paddle, tap the ball, and then put your finger back on the panda so you can both move and see the paddle at the same time. At face value that doesn’t sound so bad, but when you’re moving your finger to the panda, if you put it just a hair to the left or right of where you started, the panda (paddle and all) will jump to the left or right. When you’re aiming at a low hanging block, these paddle jumps can very easily cost you a life.

The control issues can be extremely frustrating, but they don’t come up often enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of Ninja Breakout Premium. It’s a fun game that will keep you coming back for more.

ArkDroid Review

ArkDroid Review

Jul 6, 2011

Breakout clones have been around ever since Breakout was invented. Anyone who’s ever dabbled in game making has probably built a Breakout clone. I know I have. That said, just because a game is a copy, doesn’t mean it’s terrible. If you manage to get the balance between familiarity and new concepts just right, you might make something special.

ArkDroid is a touch screen controlled block smasher. You slide a bar along the bottom of the screen in order to bounce a ball to the top of the screen and clear all of the coloured bricks from the level. Some smashed bricks drop power ups and power downs that ranged from turning the ball into a flaming death bomb, to shrinking your bar to a minuscule size.

You can only move your bar using a space at the very bottom of the screen, indicated by a finger print. Whilst this means your fingers aren’t obscuring the play, it’s quite a small space and your finger doesn’t always register, meaning you’ll sit in anguish as yet another ball drifts past you.

It’s not the best looking game out there, either. It’s solidly built, but there’s a clunkiness to everything the game has to offer that makes it look decidedly old fashioned next to the bigger boys available on the Android Market. Don’t get me wrong, there’s fun to be had with ArkDroid, but it sometimes feels like it’s not quite finished, like it needs a little bit more work before it’s ready to be unleashed onto the public.

Put simply, it’s a Breakout clone that offers nothing particularly revolutionary, and doesn’t play quite as well as you might hope. There’s nothing massively wrong with it, and it’ll keep you entertained for as long as you play it, but ArkDroid just can’t shake the fact that it’s a clone, and a clone that’s not that much more impressive that its 25 year old progenitor.

Kilgamore Castle Review

Kilgamore Castle Review

May 31, 2011

Abusing animals isn’t cool. Can you imagine the outcry if I put my dog in a diver’s helmet and made him charge around, smashing obstacles with his head? I’d be arrested and thrown in jail. And I don’t even have a dog. That’s why it’s good that video games exist, because they allow us to do things we’d normally get in heaps of trouble for.

Kilgamore Castle is an Arachnid clone, or more accurately, an Arkanoid evolution. A cross between Breakout and a career in archaeology, it casts you as Ernest Pucklington, an aging adventurer whose best days are behind him. Instead of hanging up his adventuring shoes though, he enlists the help of his dog Barney and ventures out to the titular castle, in search of treasure.

There are quests to complete and a variety of different levels, each with their own challenge, to complete. The gameplay evolves as you move through the game, sometimes requiring you to light candles, other times to drop bombs or collect specific items that somehow fall down the screen, even though it’s a flat plane.

The game isn’t the best looking out there, but it’s by no means ugly. Its sounds too are perfectly adequate. Kilgamore Castle is one of the growing number of games available on the Android Market that do everything they set out to do and not one iota more. That’s not a complaint, so much as an observation; sometimes you don’t want innovation, just something relaxing to while away a few spare minutes.

There’s nothing wrong with Kilgamore Castle, but at the same time, there’s nothing about it that will grab your attention. It’s enjoyable enough, but there are plenty of other games out there that are more worthy of your time and attention. If you stumble across the app whilst browsing the Android Market, then downloading and playing it will do you no actual harm, indeed, you might draw from it some nostalgic enjoyment, but in the end, it’s an experience that’s remarkably easy to forget.