#3 Breakout

Posted: 2nd March 2012 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

127th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1976
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

Games really do not get much older than this (with the exception of the earlier covered game Pong and the first actual game on the list).

I would like the reason we chose to do this game to be fairly noble but it was because I was so itching to cover Arkanoid and Shatter that we agreed to do this game earlier. In a way it builds a case for us having covered the games in chronological order… but it would have meant a shoot ’em up saturation effect and we would have been bored witless. It also drives our averages down a bit… we might just have to put in a few more of these quick and easy games more often. They probably won’t be as simple soon enough, but historical perspective and all that… also it’s fun. 

Our Thoughts

Here is an interesting fact about the original Breakout game; the machine was black and white and used coloured pieces of cellophane to stop the display from looking dull. A bit of an oddity when you consider one of the most influential games of all time was the machine equivalent of the purple one in a tin of Quality Street.

Be it Arkanoid, Alphabounce, Shatter or Cybersphere it is near impossible to find a gamer in the world who has not played either Breakout or a Breakout-clone. Why is this game so important to gaming history? Well it is pretty much the first major game that tried to create something original rather than emulate something already existing in human culture. Pong? It’s a game of real tennis. The Oregon Trail? It’s a history lesson. Apart from some futuristic sport where we use bowling balls and a moving trampoline in the demolition buisness there really isn’t a human allegory to Breakout and thank Zeus for that.

While this game is certainly abstract, that increases its appeal in a way – you’re focused on the action and with that, involved more in beating the computer. You know you can do better, you know you can destroy the blocks and you want to do so before the computer brings those blocks down too far.

The gameplay, as if we need to talk about that, is very simple; destory the blocks with your ball and paddle. In total there are only two levels and an absolute maximum score of 896 which should add up to a boring and repetitive crapfest of a gaming experience (if you excuse my Klatchian). But, like we said with Space Invaders, this game really does have the ‘one-more time’ factor. It helps that the game, at its simplest, is actually incredibly tough – it’s hard to even make it past the first level, never mind making it through the second. It’s certainly beatable, but it takes time and practice, which draws you in even further.

Final Thoughts

Back to the same thoughts here – yeah, the game is simple. You bounce a ball around, hitting as many bricks as possible and trying to keep it from falling in a chasm. But as so often, that simplicity works and leads to an addictive gameplay. We’re soon going to see this improved on in future games, but right now it more than works for us.

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