Sprinkling innovation on top of what is ostensibly an Arkanoid clone is a tricky task, but developer Beatshapers has achieved it marvellously with the brilliant BreakQuest: Extra Evolution. Building on the original title from 2004, this PlayStation Mini lives up to its namesake by completely overhauling the block bashing genre, making a tired formula feel fresh again.
Your goal in the game is to clear the screen of blocks without losing all of your balls – but the blocks here take the guise of various intricate patterns. This results in a vibrant screen of colour that acts as a type of puzzle, eager for your paddle-powered destruction. Because it’s not always clear which blocks are targets or scenery, the game can get a bit frustrating – but you’ll tend to forgive the flaw due to the overall charm of the presentation.
Indeed, blocks take the form of petals, lights, power nodes and more, all resulting in fanciful and elaborate patterns. Meanwhile, switches must be activated in order to trigger events or open up access to more blocks. Each set of ten stages culminates in a boss made up of bricks that will test your skills by attempting to incapacitate your futuristic paddle. Furthermore, certain objects are subject to their own unique properties, such as weights that spin around on string and even blocks that bounce around dynamically. It’s a far more complex experience than the simple Pong-based action of yore.
Incredibly, though, that’s not all. Power-ups fall from destroyed blocks, granting you abilities such as missiles and more. You’re also able to deploy a shield which recharges, allowing you to tactically use it to prevent your ball from falling off the screen. The title quickly becomes a strategic game of risk and reward, which really elevates it above its nearest peers.
In total, there are 100 brilliantly designed levels to conquer – 101 if you’re able to uncover the secret one. And because of the way that the menus are put together, you’ll always feel like you’re making progress. This isn’t the type of game where you get stuck and find yourself banging your head against the wall for hours on end – there’s always another level to attempt if you’re finding the current one too tough.
BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is one of the most addictive block breakers since Shatter. With a treasure trove of gorgeous stages, a fantastic soundtrack, and a pocket change price-point, this is one PlayStation Mini that you can’t afford to miss.