Saturday 24 October 2015

Super Blockbuster / Super Casse Brique (Microvision review)

Developer: Milton Bradley
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Released: 1982

Super Blockbuster was only available in Europe and was the last commercially released game for the system.

Your objective is to bounce the ball off your paddle to destroy the top wall but unlike other Breakout clones (1976, Arcades) this one has an interesting twist. Below your paddle is a series of blocks and if the ball lands in there you don't lose any lives as it simply bounces off and play continues; once you've lost all your blocks it's Game Over. As soon as you start a game the ball comes firing downwards so quick reactions are needed immediately! Thankfully the developers decreased the speed of the ball compared to the original Block Buster (1979, Microvision) and it's set at the perfect velocity. Not only does this mean that there's less motion blur on the LCD screen, it also gives you enough time to move the paddle and line up your shot. This is crucial as your paddle is made up of three blocks that affect the angle of the ball; if it hits the middle block it will ricochet straight upwards whereas the side blocks make it careen off at a 45° angle. The game plays well and the controls feel tight and responsive which makes for some addictive high score chases. Once the top wall is partially destroyed it becomes quite difficult to hit individual blocks; the reason is that the ball only seems to move in particular patterns and breaking its habit is tough. In fact, the only way I could stop it from missing everything was to let it bounce beyond my paddle in the hope of a slight redirect. It's a bit cheap and you'll almost always have to sacrifice some of your blocks to succeed. If you manage to clear the entire top wall your points are calculated and then the process repeats; however, although the top wall regenerates yours doesn't so you're only left with the blocks you had left! If you're looking for more of a challenge two difficulty settings are available by pressing the + button which affects the speed of the ball.

Super Blockbuster is much more playable than the original and it's a really fun game for high score chasers. The controls are spot on, the action is enjoyable and despite some minor niggles it proves that the handheld can successfully pull off fast, twitch style gameplay.

Random trivia: In France, the game was released as Super Casse Brique.

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