Reviewed: March 15, 2011
Released: March 15, 2011
App Store Price: $1.99
The first video game I ever played was the first video game ever made – PONG. The simple paddle vs. paddle design with a bouncing square ball was about as state-of-the-art as it got back in the late 70’s. That core concept evolved into games like Breakout and Arkanoid and apparently has been lurking around, dormant until now with the release of Ball Busters HD for the iPad. The classics never die – they just get remade into portable games.|
Ball Busters puts a unique twist on the Breakout genre by dividing its levels into themes like the City, Jungle, or Outer Space, then populating 20 challenging boards per theme with all sorts of fun and entertaining spherical characters. So in the city you might get balls that look like gang bangers and cops while in the space them you get aliens and crazy guys with aluminum foil on their head. Each them has a distinct background and numerous characters that not only look funny, but also offer a nice selection of one-liners.
Looks aside, Ball Busters plays just like any other version of Breakout, although with numerous power-ups that make it more like Arkanoid. When you hit and destroy certain balls an icon will slowly fall to the bottom of the screen. If you can pick it up with your paddle you earn the reward, or suffer the penalty. Power-ups include a protective barrier, big balls, small or larger paddles, invisible balls, blue balls, and even weapon upgrades for your paddle that allow you to shoot and clear the field even quicker.
Trying to figure out which power-ups are good and bad takes a lot of trial and error to learn the subtle icon symbols. Regardless of the reward or penalty, each is always acknowledge by a humorous computer voice indicating “You’ve got big balls” or “Size doesn’t matter” when your paddle shrinks. It’s fun and slightly naughty.
Control is basic. Tap the screen to launch the ball then slide your finger along the bottom to move the paddle. If you screen is dirty or your finger is sticky you are in for a frustrating time as the paddle will seriously lag behind your motion – a big problem with fast moving balls or a low barrier. I actually had to put a small piece of tissue on my finger tip to get a smooth enough action to play anything beyond the third theme. Your finger also tends to obscure the paddle making it hard to judge position.
There are three modes to choose from including standard Arcade Mode, Survival Mode, and Survival Extreme. Combined with the 120 levels, each with their own challenging designs and devious blocker-balls, you’ll spend hours conquering this game. Admittedly, at the end of the day it’s just another Breakout game but it sure is fun. It’s only $2 on the iPad and certainly benefits from the extra screen size. I can’t imagine playing this on my iPhone. If you’re a fan of classic 70’s and 80’s video games or like to snicker at not-so-subtle ball jokes, then check out Ball Busters. It’s worth a look.