AGH Atari 2600 Review:

by Atari

The object of Breakout is to demolish rows of colored bricks. Each time you hit a brick with the ball, you score the appropriate number of points and the brick disappears. Hitting the wall in the same place each time results in breaking a path through it. Once the ball breaks through the wall, it rebounds against the top of the wall and the top of the screen knocking out bricks until it breaks back through to the bottom of the wall. Obviously, this scores a good number of points. The bad news about breaking through is that when it happens, the paddle is immediately reduced to half its original size, making it more difficult to keep the ball in play. However, with a little more concentration and a finer touch on the paddle controller the wall can be totally demolished. The key to hitting the ball back consistently is anticipating where it will hit the bottom of the screen. If you wait to see where it's going to land, you'll get there too late to catch it.

You move your paddle left and right at the bottom of the screen. The speed of the video paddle is not limited, as in some games; it moves at the same rate as the paddle controller. The red button on the controller serves the ball to start each turn.

The video paddle (not to be confused with the paddle controller) is divided into four sections. Each section has a different rebound angle, so you can anticipate where the ball will go. However, the rebound angle becomes sharper after the eighth hit, then less sharp again after the sixteenth hit. After the forty-eighth hit the paddle is divided into only two sections, with each rebound angle being about 45 degrees. You'll have to gain a fair amount of expertise to make use of this information about the angles. At first, it will take all of your coordination just to get the paddle to hit the ball, never mind at what spot on the paddle. Also, attempting to hit the ball at the edge of the paddle often results in missing it altogether. The speed of the ball is not controllable, but does increase after the eighth hit and as the ball knocks out one of the bricks in the top four rows of the wall.

Breakout is like Checkers in that it's incredibly easy to learn, but difficult to master. It's simple enough for novices and children to pick up and play, but pros will also get a lifetime of enjoyment out of this classic evolution of Pong.

Title Breakout
Publisher Atari
System Atari 2600 (VCS)
Graphics 4
Sound 5
Gameplay 9
Overall 9
Reviewer Keita Iida

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