Ever since the 8-bit era, bedroom coders have been writing their own clones of popular arcade games and releasing them, either to friends or distributed freely or through smaller independent publishers changing a few details in the games such as names, characters, artwork releasing them as “tributes” or games “inspired” by the originals.If it weren’t for these, many of the smaller budget publishers would never have existed or thrived and some of them have grown and developed and are still around today.
One such target for continual adaptation was Taito’s classic Breakout. The bat and ball game has been cloned countless times over the years and even received an official makeover or two by Taito themselves starting with the classic Arkanoid but Lightning Game Studios have gone back to basics with their PSM Breakout clone.
On first loading, the game is somewhat confusing with a picture of a scantily-clad anime girl-come-angel. What connection she has to a breakout game I don’t know, but it’s all downhill from this point. Progressing to the game itself you’re invited to touch the screen to start and it’s from here it’s apparent that user-friendliness isn’t part of the developer’s vocabulary. Touching the screen to start does nothing at all… until you realise that you have to touch the screen on the button itself. This may seem like a minor issue but it’s a niggling thing that crops up alot and during their games – over dependence of the touch screen and precision use at that.
Anyway, moving on and you’re faced with the normal Breakout screen – a wall comprising of various coloured bricks and your bat at the bottom. The bat itself is controlled using the analogue stick and the ball is launched – you guessed it – by touching the screen. Up to this point, there’s no real issue with the game until play begins. Once launched, the movement of the ball itself is rather erratic – changing speed randomly as you play, speeding up for no reason whatsoever and slowing down again without warning making positioning the bat ready to return the ball nigh on impossible.
The visuals themselves present something I found quite worrying as well. For a game like Breakout, you wouldn’t expect it to cause any difficulties for hardware as powerful as the Vita yet the movement of the ball stutters continually and the bat frequently jerks uncontrollably and I found throughout play that the bat would jump if moved too quickly, moreso when the sides of the screen were reached meaning that all too easily you would end up jumping away from the ball, missing it completely.
That’s not the worst part of the controls unfortunately. At some points in the game, the bat feels sluggish and as if it is moving through a tin of treacle, but for the majority of play time, it moves incredibly quickly and there is no precision control at your disposal so it’s more luck than anything else whether you hit the ball or not.
I love Breakout, whether it’s a simplified version of the game or a bells-and-whistles version with powerups, but I really can’t think of anything positive to say about this. They’ve taken everything that makes Breakout a classic and destroyed it in one swift motion. The game is all about smooth movement, finely tuned controls and addictive gameplay and there’s none of that here. Instead, we’re being asked to pay £3.39 for a glitch-filled pretender. Steer well clear of this one.
At A Glance
- Title: Breakout
- Publisher: Lightning Game Studios
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 31Mb