AGH Atari 2600 Review:

by Atari

Super Breakout
Super Breakout is perhaps the greatest design of the popular ball-and-paddle contest that first reached arcades in the 1970s. The cart itself, actually contains four games -- Breakout, Double, Progressive and Cavity. All four variations offer an infinite succession of target walls and on-screen scoring that includes both a numerical total and a comment by the computer on each player's skill.

The 2600 version of Super Breakout shows skill, imagination and loving care in its design, so much so that it has spawned numerous "clones," most notably Arkanoid.

Super Breakout Pic 2
If you've played Breakout, this version will look like more of the same. But Super Breakout expands on the theme by including three different game variations (four if you include the original Breakout, which is resident in the cartridge as well.) In Double Breakout, you receive two paddles and two balls. When two balls are in play at the same time, point values are double. The paddles are stacked one on top of the other. In Cavity Breakout, the wall of bricks has two holes in it, each containing a ball. When the play begins, it looks rather like a face with two maniacal eyes. When a path is broken into one of the cavities, the ball within is released, putting two balls in play. When one ball is missed, the point values revert to their original amount and play continues until the second ball is missed. Finally, rather than having one wall of eight rows of bricks, Progressive Breakout offers two walls, each of which contains four rows. As the play progresses, these rows move down the screen, getting progressively closer to the paddle. Since the rows change color as they move down the screen, their point value lessens. Therefore, it's to your advantage to break through as soon as possible to hit the uppermost bricks. The very low bricks present a problem because there is very little room to react between the time that the ball hits the brick and the time it goes off the bottom of the screen. As an added bonus, there's also a Children's version of Breakout. It's the same as regular Breakout except that the paddles do not decrease in size when the wall is broken through and the ball does not speed up when one of the last four rows is hit.

It's difficult to explain in words how addicting Breakout is. But one of the best features of the game is the sound effects. The sound that a brick makes when it disappears varies from row to row and from game to game. When the ball breaks through the wall and rebounds at the top of the screen, knocking out brick after brick, the sound is infinitely more fun than the points. It's pure gaming nirvana!

It's infuriating when magazines coin the term "repetitive" to mean dull, boring and lacking variety. When you consider that Tetris and Breakout are as repetitive and single-minded in execution as they come, you'll agree that, sometimes, the best games are those that do ONE thing spectacularly well instead of pretending to have a wide variety of options, power-ups, levels and different play mechanics. Super Breakout is a masterpiece.

Title Super Breakout
Publisher Atari
System Atari 2600 (VCS)
Graphics 6
Sound 7
Gameplay 10
Overall 10
Reviewer Keita Iida

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