The march of the 79p games continues! This time we have that perennial budget favourite, the brick-breaker.
Bricks Breaker Puzzle (the plural in the name irritates me no end) is no-nonsense about what it offers. It’s single-player, one game mode (a campaign), and no difficulty settings or unlockables. It’s twenty levels, played in sequence. Have at it.
Whisper it: Bricks Breaker Puzzle feels half-decent to play. The ball-physics mostly do what you want them to. There are moments where it corkscrews off a brick in an unpredictable direction, or – for reasons we can’t figure – bounces off thin air when you have a multiball in play. These are reasonably rare, though, so Bricks Breaker passes its first test.
The paddle movement is on the slow side, and we’d have paid an extra 20p or so for a ‘speed up’ button that we could hold to reach the far sides of the screen. When multiballs or other speed-related power-ups are in play, it can leave you with no hope of getting to them. Still, the paddle moves intuitively enough.
Bricks Breaker Puzzle is in the Arkanoid camp of brick-breaking. It absolutely loves a power-up. We mean that both in terms of variety, as there are probably a dozen to collect, but also frequency. Get the right power-up – a fireball, say – and you will be chewing through bricks which, in turn, will mean an absolute avalanche of power-ups. It’s stupidly generous.
We were all for Bricks Breaker Puzzle’s approach to power-ups. You’re swimming in them, which often means that you’re dodging the brick-breaker genre’s biggest pitfall: the endgame. It’s never fun to be plinging a ball about, hoping it will hit the last brick that’s hiding behind an unbreakable other brick. But with the numerous power-ups, you can obliterate whole chunks of the game screen. The last-brick-standing issue almost becomes moot.
And unleashing half-a-dozen power-ups at once feels good. Suddenly, you’re smashing bricks with abandon, when you might have been struggling. Plus, getting a ball stuck at the top of the screen feels even better than it does in your average brick breaker, since you’re waiting at the bottom with your cap in hand, catching all of the fireballs and lightning bolts that the game can throw at you.
There is a ‘but’. Bricks Breaker Puzzle could absolutely have done with some fine tuning on the power-up side. Many of the power-ups have a cap, when they would have been so much more fun without them. Take the multiball, for example: you can only have two in play at one time, even if you have collected a hundred multiball power-ups. There’s less opportunity for carnage, and that’s a shame.
There are debuffs in among the buffs, too. But power-ups – more often than not – drop in a shower, where you can’t distinguish between them, so you’re often having to swallow the odd negative, mainly because the positives outweigh them. We would have kept the emphasis on the ‘up’ in power-up, to make them all positive. Power-ups often cancel each other out, too – a lightning bolt will override a fireball – which, again, means that you can be having a merry old time destroying the game screen when, oops, you swallow a slightly less good boost that cancels it out.
Thumbs up on the controls and power-ups, then. Thumbs down on the victory conditions and the levels themselves.
To complete a level in Bricks Breaker Puzzle, you need to clear it in a timeframe. That’s relatively rare in the genre – most of the time you’re limited by lives rather than time. I’ll be honest, I would have taken the lives. This is because multiple levels are almost impossible to clear in the two minutes (unclearable steel bricks are the biggest reason for this). It means you are reliant on power-ups, and these are utterly random. In some cases, if you don’t have a fireball, the level effectively can’t be done, but you can’t guarantee that you will get one. We were stuck on Level 12 for a good twenty minutes for this reason alone. Other power-ups just don’t cut it, or are ineffective in certain situations. So, you’re hoping the game gives you what you need, all while the time ticks down.
And then there’s the measly twenty levels. We know, we know, it takes a special kind of entitlement to complain about twenty levels for 79p. But they really don’t change all that much, with steel blocks and bombs being the only remixes to the formula. Steel boxes are a pain more than anything else. Luckily the power-ups do come in to save the day.
What you’re getting for your 79p is a condensed little brick-breaker that puts all its chips on its power-ups, and the bet pays off. Barely a second goes by without guns and lightning bolts tumbling down for you to pick up. Sure, Bricks Breaker Puzzle’s twenty levels won’t last more than a half hour or so, and those levels don’t do anything particularly interesting, but we’ve paid more for much less on the big black box. Just don’t expect any achievements.
You can buy Bricks Breaker Puzzle from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S