Sunday 2 August 2020

Breakout 2000 (Atari Jaguar review)

Developer: MP Games
Publisher: Telegames
Released: 1996

Breakout 2000 is an action game that's a remake of the Arcade title Breakout (1976).

It consists of two modes with the newly updated version being Breakout 2000; here, the objective is to complete ten phases (each housing five playfields) by continually bouncing a ball off your paddle to smash walls made of bricks. Power-ups are available that add extra abilities to either your ball or paddle. While paddle controllers are the best way to experience these type of games, the Jaguar controller does an admirable job and its smooth left-to-right movements allow you to ricochet the ball with consistent precision. The introduction of power-ups is terrific as they add a risk-reward element in terms of you needing to keep an eye on the ball while rushing to grab a descending item. Another great mechanic is how power-ups remain in your arsenal for each playfield within a phase; if you manage to gain the Super Ball your life becomes a lot easier considering it can plough through multiple bricks at once! It is somewhat disappointing though that the gameplay doesn't feature more innovation, as almost everything here had already been seen in Arkanoid (1986, Arcade). Breakout Classic mode replicates the 1976 original and the objective is to clear two walls; options include having the ball smash against bricks, or careen straight through them for maximum damage. This mode falls short, as even on Expert mode it's a breeze to clear the screen due to the slow moving ball that doesn't increase in speed as it hits higher rows of bricks. Couple this with the fact that your vast paddle barely shrinks when the ball touches the top of the screen and you're left with a sadly inaccurate version of the Arcade game.

Breakout 2000 is a welcome upgrade to the 1976 original and it successfully manages to update the established gameplay to include power-ups and ever-changing stage layouts. It's unfortunate then that it doesn't do much to advance the genre, as most of its new ideas are heavily inspired by similar games from a decade earlier.

Random trivia: According to the game's developer Mario Perdue, rotary support was planned before being scrapped.

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