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Breakout Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1978 Also On: None

Before Break ‘Em All, even before Arkanoid, there was Breakout, the game that started the block-breaking genre. I don’t know if Breakout was an arcade game before it came to the Atari 2600, but either way, Breakout is one of the significant titles of the early days of that system. Although it was later made obsolete by Super Breakout, Breakout is still a decent game that would be worth playing today if not for its newer brother.

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The concept of Breakout is simple. There are lines of blocks at the top of the screen. You have a paddle at the bottom of a screen. A ball travels through the screen, hitting the blocks one at a time and destroying them. After each hit, it travels back to the bottom of the screen where you must maneuver the paddle so that the ball bounces off of it. That’s about all there is to the game. You continue until you have let all of your balls fall past the paddle.

Aesthetically, Breakout isn’t bad for an early era Atari game. The rows of blocks are different colors, and the paddle and ball look okay as well. The sound effects for the ball bouncing off of the paddle or the blocks is okay for an early-era Atari game as well. Of course, a game this early has no music in it, but it wasn’t expected at this point, so I can’t complain about its absence. Overall, the aesthetics aren’t too bad.

In terms of gameplay, this game controls excellently with the paddle controller. Unfortunately, you need a paddle controller to play this game, and many people don’t have them. But the paddle controller is capable of fast movements or slow ones depending on how fast you turn the knob, and this allows for very precise movements after some time of practicing with it. This all means that if a ball falls past your paddle, you can’t blame the controls.

At the same time, however, the ball moves depending on how you hit it with the paddle. It will move depending on what part of the paddle it hits as well as how fast the paddle is moving at that time. This means that, if you know what you’re doing, you can keep the balls moving reasonably slowly, although they seem to speed up slightly over time no matter what you do. It also means that one wrong hit, and the ball will be moving so fast you’ll barely be able to keep up with it. Also, the ball won’t ever bounce around among the blocks. It will hit one and then come back down, even if it has to travel straight through another block to do so (I’m not kidding, I saw this happen).

This game is fun enough that it would be worth playing more just to see how far you could get into clearing the blocks. Indeed, I would wholeheartedly recommend this game to all Atari 2600 gamers, were it not for the existence of Super Breakout. Still, if you for some reason can’t find Super Breakout, this game is certainly good in its own right.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8
Written by Martin Review Guide