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Breakout 2000

My girlfriend, more than myself, was eagerly awaiting Breakout 2000 to show up at my house. She is a weird Atari fanatic and was looking forward to seeing what it had to offer, and I was interested as well.

If you haven't played the original breakout (how old are you, 12?) the premise is like this: You are a paddle, and you bop a ball into some bricks in an attempt to remove them. The bricks are different colors set up in a horizontal line, so the bottle line for example is one color, the one above it is another, etc, just like a rainbow. The higher the brick wall, the more points they are worth.

The game follows physics fairly well, so if you quickly slam into the ball on an odd angle (you can only go left or right, but depending on where the ball hits the paddle you can "aim" it), the ball will shoot off into the direction you were going, sometimes at a faster speed.

Breakout 2000 is, well, the same. Your setting seems to be that of an outer-space construction yard, where you have to blast the bricks for whatever reason (to break-out, I imagine) and the differences are there is now music and improved sound effects, better graphics, and the original (if somewhat different) version is included on the cartridge as well. If you played Tempest 2000 or Defender 2000, do not except the same lightning fast action with far out tunes, instead, expect Arkanoid on the Jaguar.

The similarities between Breakout 2000 and Arkanoid are apparent right away, as there are power-ups to be had, like catching the ball, a super-ball that breaks whatever it hits, speeding the ball up, slowing it down... even a pseudo-cannon to shoot bricks with. There are also power-downs, for the lack of a better term, that disables whatever effect you may have, or causes a bad thing to happen, like making all of the bricks you destroyed come back again. The playfield bricks also come in different patterns.

The music is repetitive, although it is bearable. The sound effects to me, at first, sounded pretty cheap... but, as the game progressed, I started to appreciate the sounds more...like the clink when your ball hits another ball, the plasma-cannon firing, and the sound when you get a power-up.

If Arkanoid/Breakout for $60 is not your forte, then don't be alarmed, because the two-player game mode more than makes up for it. My girlfriend and I played for hours on two-player mode. The game is head-to-head, where one played controls a paddle at the top of the screen, and the other player is at the bottom. You each get your own playfield, and the game-play is exactly the same--except when you break a hole in your last row of bricks, instead of the ball bouncing back to you if you hit the back of the playfield, it flys into the opponents playfield and destroys THEIR bricks.

This may not seem like a good tactic until you realize that you get twice the points for destroying their bricks. With this in mind, you want to get rid of the opponent's ball from your playfield as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, you just can't let the other player's ball whiz right past you, you have to hit it back or you LOSE 1000 points! What a way to keep the game going! Not only do you have to hit it back, but chances are you will give them points in the process if you hit any of your bricks with their ball! So not only do you have to be good at hitting bricks in this game, you also have to be good at MISSING them. And when your opponent has a super-ball, you will almost cry as the ball smashes through your bricks at the greatest of ease, causing the other player's score to soar at your expense.

While you get a bonus for removing all of your bricks, the opponent is docked points for each brick that is left after you clear out all of yours. However, the real rewards are destroying the bricks that are not your own because the 2x scoring, and the chance to make him or her lose 1000 points by missing your ball. These make up for any deduction you may get by finishing the opponent's playfield for him/her.

There are a few things that I would have liked added to the game, like a power-up similar to that found in Atari Karts that makes the control reverse. By this I mean making it so turning right really makes your paddle go left. This would be incredibly amusing to have happen to the other player, and incredibly infurating to have happen to you. So not only would you have to be good at hitting and missing bricks, you'd have to be able to do it with a backwards controller as well!

Another option I would have liked would have been a "number of balls" selection. This would have offset the difficulties my girlfriend had keeping up with my playing. She seemed to end her game almost immediately compared to me, and I kept having to reset in order to start the game over again so she can play against me again.

There is a difficulty selection, but the best that I can determine is that it just modifies how big your paddle is. I played on expert and she played on novice and there still was a horrible mismatch that ended quickly.

Overall, I liked the game. I always liked Breakout, Arkanoid, and Kaboom! (similar only in the retrospect that you have to be aware of whats going on at all times) types of games, so this was a time well spent.

I give the game a seven out of ten. The game is easy to learn, easy to play (save for my girlfriend), and easy to keep trying to beat the level that you last lost on... My only major disappointment was the music, as I had been under the assumption that it would be really good stuff. In fact, I would believe Telegames has the same feelings I do, since there is no mention in the manual of who wrote the music (that I could find). Since the game is, afterall, Breakout, you already knew what you were getting. If you enjoyed the Breakout-esque types of games, this game is for you.

-Jeff Grimshaw, 1/6/96

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