BreakQuest: Extra Evolution

A fun and worthy BreakQuest sequel that shines through the variety and creativity of its level designs.

By azn_pride, Posted 29 Oct 2012

BreakQuest was developed by Nurium Games for the PC back in 2004. It broke the mold for Breakout-style games by incorporating a physics-based aspect, instead of having players hit stationary objects on screen. As a result, BreakQuest was one of the best games of its genre at the time, which developer Beatshapers (Wizorb, Jane’s Hotel) eventually picked up. The game saw a re-release as a PlayStation Mini title in 2009 (in Europe; 2010 in North America). Now, Beatshapers have rebuilt the game from the ground up as BreakQuest: Extra Evolution. Improving on gameplay and level design, Extra Evolution is a worthy sequel that is as much fun to play as it is to look at.

As any Breakout-clone, BreakQuest has you controlling a paddle (in this case, a shuttle) to direct a ball toward a wall of destructible objects for points. Extra Evolution has its own mechanics that separates it from the more traditional block-breaking game. Rather than static blocks, BreakQuest relies heavily on physics and movable objects that react accordingly when colliding with a ball. This often creates hectic situations on screen -- objects lighting up when hit, breaking or flying away, bumping into other blocks -- that adds to the entertainment. The game is set up by ten rows of ten levels each (including a secret one); completing a level unlocks another one until you reach the final tier, which is always a boss fight. These boss fights are fairly challenging and perhaps the most enjoyable, especially when you’re rewarded with new shuttles that come equipped with built-in power-ups.

The Gravitator lets you attract any ball towards the bottom of the screen. By pressing either the Square or the Circle button, you can curve the ball toward specific objects. Depending on how much you press or hold the buttons determines how much the ball turns in the desired direction. This remedies some frustrations in most levels, because you can manipulate the ball to hit blocks you just can’t seem to get to. Sadly, the Gravitator has its flaws, as it can only curve in one direction, no matter which button you’re pressing. As said before, it attracts the ball towards the bottom, so you can lose a ‘life’ if you’re not careful. Thankfully though, Extra Evolution has defensive energy walls, which form a barrier below the screen that makes playing the game much easier.

BreakQuest, Extra Evolution, Review, Trailer

While not exclusive to BreakQuest itself, power-ups are a big part of Extra Evolution. These are regularly and randomly acquired through breakable objects in the environment, ranging from adding a weapon to your shuttle (usually a machine gun or rocket launcher) to expanding its size. Some power-ups, however, have negative effects that include shrinking your shuttle’s size or temporary immobilizing it. The game doesn’t do a particularly great job telling you which power-ups are good or bad (especially if you’re new to BreakQuest); you’re more or less encouraged to explore every power-up’s properties and learn which ones to get or avoid yourself. That, in and of itself, is actually fun.

That said, not being able to initially determine what certain things do can still be annoying, especially when it’s hard to distinguish between objects in the background and which ones you can interact with. As a result, starting each level is confusing, because you just don’t know what direction you should launch the ball first or what you’re even supposed to hit. Another grievance is the game’s physics can occasionally turn wonky. I usually ran into a situation where I would try to at least nick the ball from the edge of my shuttle, only to find it going through and somehow getting stuck inside. This causes the ball to repeatedly bounce inside my shuttle, hit and destroy the energy wall, and I would lose.

BreakQuest, Extra Evolution, Review, Trailer

Still, I’d actually be hard-pressed to find something that makes this game totally unplayable. Extra Evolution’s best trait is that each of its 100 (and one hidden one) levels have their own unique, abstract designs. Every level looks bright, colorful, and well-designed. There are even small details and effects that I like seeing, such as crumbs and pixels that show as you chip away at specific objects. Extra Evolution’s cool sound effects when you hit specific things and its synthesizer/chiptune-heavy soundtrack (composed by the SandS Band) also helps make this game both a visual and auditory treat.

BreakQuest, Extra Evolution, Review, Trailer
Yo, it's got in-game achievements in it. You like that, right?

Overall, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is a solid pick-up-and-play game, that while it looks good on the PlayStation 3, it’s certainly a better fit for the PlayStation Portable or Vita. Its greatest strength lies not solely on the sheer number of levels it contains, but also the variety and creativity of its level designs. It would’ve been cool -- though unnecessary -- if it had a level editor, but that’s probably asking too much from a PlayStation Mini title. Nevertheless, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution has enough content for you to sink some hours into that makes its $3.99 price point a valuable purchase.

David Gabriel, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Platform(s): PS3, Vita
Publisher(s): Beatshapers
Developer(s): Beatshapers
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Arcade
Release Date: 2012-10-16

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