Ever since the creation of classic arcade game Breakout over 30 years ago, countless spin-offs and clones have been created, all of them adopting the simple formula that the original game encompassed. Using a single paddle, players were tasked with bouncing a ball into rows of bricks, attempting to break them all without letting the ball fall to the bottom of the screen. Even in its simplicity, there has always been something inherently fun and addictive in this classic gameplay, at least for me. Decades after Breakout first made an impression on the gaming industry, Alawar Entertainment is looking to bring the formula to the current generation with downloadable PSN title Hyperballoid HD.
At its core, the gameplay of Hyperballoid is pretty much the same as every other Breakout clone you’ve ever played: using the paddle at the bottom of the screen to bounce a ball into an arrangement of bricks without losing the ball and running out of lives. The developers of Hyperballoid have put their own spin on the game with the use of helpful power-ups and dangerous power-downs, as well as different level effects that will change the way you approach any particular stage. Disappearing and reappearing bricks, gravity effects, and moving parts make each level different than the one before it, keeping the game from getting too stale.
Adding to the slightly chaotic gameplay are various green and red orbs that are unleashed by hitting certain bricks. Green orbs generally have positive effects, while red orbs are negative. Green orbs may slow down the ball, lengthen your paddle, or put up a protective barrier, while red orbs have effects like speeding up or shrinking the ball. During the hectic gameplay, it’s sometimes hard to avoid falling red orbs, which usually mixes things up even more and adds another layer of challenge to Hyperballoid.
As the title implies, the graphical prowess of Hyperballoid is far superior to arcade games of yesteryear. Levels are grouped into two themes, one with a focus on ancient civilizations, and one with more of a sci-fi feel to it. Each theme has dozens of levels that are pretty distinct in terms of visuals, and the game does look and feel very polished. I’m not sure that this type of game really needed a high-def installment, but in that aspect, Alawar has succeeded. The sound effects appropriately heighten the gameplay, and aren’t any more or less than you would expect from a Breakout clone.
No matter how much variety is in each level, or how shiny the graphics are, the simplicity of the gameplay can become a bit redundant after about half an hour or so. Hyperballoid is a game best played in smaller doses, making it an appropriate title for the casual crowd, or a good timewaster. For only five dollars, it’s hard to complain about the price, but try the demo before committing to anything. If you find yourself pulled in, you’ll likely get your money’s worth.