Saturday, April 14

Review: #Breakforcist Battle [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Breakout is absolutely one of the fundamental classic games that I remember playing variants of all the way back to the very beginning. This makes sense since it can be represented relatively primitively, needing just a paddle, a ball, and bricks to knock out. Over the years there have been improvements to the formula on occasion with the likes of Arkanoid, in particular, giving it an extra shot of excitement. Now, throwing some new elements into the mix, we have #Breakforcist Battle which proves that old formula still has life left in it.

What will first grab your attention is the very colorful and upbeat presentation of it all, then followed by a wave of “WTF?” as you begin to notice all of the signs that the game’s title really does cover its theme. Between many of blocks looking like a different breakfast cereals and some of the truly weird and funny foodie music tracks that accompany the action, the love for the most important meal of the day is in full effect. Gameplay always revolves around clearing the current board before it inches down past the visible threshold. Once it does, it’s game over. To help you out you’ll need to look for eggs and bombs to help you keep pace, bombs will both clear multiple blocks and knock the board back, and eggs will have unpredictable power-ups from turning the ball into a giant stack of pancakes to giving you the power of the awesome bacon laser temporarily.

The primary arcade mode can be played solo or with a friend and a typical game will usually only last maybe 5 minutes on average if you’re lucky. The board moves down pretty aggressively so unless you’re lining up for those eggs and getting a bit of luck on your side you’ll sink pretty quickly. Played as co-op the mechanics are roughly the same, but you and your partner will each have a shorter paddle, your own ball each, and you’ll only be able to move on your side of the middle line. This is a nice variation and tends to let rounds last a bit longer, though you can have problems if one side is lagging behind. Battle Mode, which can be played with 2 - 4 players is probably the most insane way to play, but I found that rounds tended to be a bit too quick for my liking, leaving little room for see-saw matches. You each will have your own board that starts out identically but then once you begin getting power-ups things start to go a bit crazy. Added effects like a Waffle Storm of Inversion will allow you to screw with your enemies and make their jobs harder but once someone clears their board the round is over. It’s crazy, hectic, and victory can sometimes be won on the thinnest of margins.

In terms of criticisms I’d say control is probably the thing I have the greatest issues with. There’s no option to play with the touchscreen, your JoyCon control of your paddle is digital instead of analog, and as a whole the movement is simply too slow on the whole. Granted, you aren’t heavily penalized for missing the ball, you’ll simply lose some time as a new one shows up, and at times you may even choose to lose the ball when you’re down to a final shot that would be easier to get without trying to deflect off your paddle. The other biggest disappointment is how brief any given Battle Mode round ends up being, as it is most typically a race for the bombs and egg blocks with the person who gets the best random power-ups coming out the winner. The lack of real length to the rounds really robs the opportunity for people to get a come-from-behind victory and that’s a shame as typically that’s what I find to be the most exciting moments in these sorts of games.

Overall, given its very reasonable price, overall weirdness, and intense bursts of excitement #Breakforcist Battle is a pretty entertaining variation on the classic Breakout. If you’re looking for extended rounds you won’t find them here, the emphasis is very much on getting in quickly, having some fun, and then stopping or giving it another go. While I wish the controls were a little quicker and capable, and an option to lengthen the Battle mode rounds would have been nice, I’ll still happily admit that it made me laugh a bit and provided for some good, if generally fleeting, fun.

Score: 8

  • Colorful, cute, and has a style all its own
  • Some of the music tracks outright make me smile and laugh for being so weird and on-topic
  • Plays pretty well as a co-op game and as a competitive one

  • If you’ll only be able to play it by yourself you’re missing out on a lot of the fun
  • Controls are a bit too slow for my taste, though the game does a good job of not penalizing you for that
  • I just wish Battle Mode rounds could be extended to allow for more opportunities for see-saw lead changes