Breakout has a lot to answer for. It introduced the world to the idea of breaking bricks with a bat and ball and proved just how addictive this simple concept could be.
Taito's Arkanoid took this one stage further and brought a mix of brick bashing and power-ups to arcades the world over, complete with a storyline and theme. Since then, gaming has seen many a pretender to the Breakout throne, and Magic Orbz is the next in line to nudge the others off the comfy chair of power.
You may have heard of HeroCraft's little brick game before, it first appeared on the PS3 and many gamers there have already enjoyed its varied take on the classic idea. Now it comes to iOS with a nifty little universal build and seems to retain all its charm.
Magic Orbz is different in that the bricks are replaced by actual objects, all laid out in an isometric 3D style, ready for you to smash them all. The first set of levels are themed around pirates and therefore features plenty of ships, treasure islands and those scallywag pirates themselves, all set on a glistening ocean. There are more themes to unlock in later levels, but they do take some time to get to and you may find yourself longing for a level on dry land before long, but at least it pushes you forward to a goal.
As you'd expect from a brick breaker, breaking objects often releases a power-up. These aren't just useful items like cannons and meteor showers, but also stuff to make the game tricker, like a less powerful ball. While it would seem sensible to avoid the bad items, they do come with a bonus score, so there's some strategy in working out just when to grin and bare them.
HeroCraft's game is a pretty good looker. It's lost none of its charm from the port over from the Playstation and, in fact, gains some from the portability and smaller screen. Special powers are pretty effective at toppling the buildings, but it's the design of the characters (even the sharks) which will bring a smile to your face, particularly when they're sinking after being knocked over.
The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy was the positioning of the direction buttons, small triangles on each side of the screen that were all too easy to slip away from busy fingers, losing a ball in the process. This is less of an issue on the iPad where the greater real estate allows for a larger button area, but it's a little fiddly on the iPhone's smaller screen and would have benefitted from being a little larger.
The charm of Magic Orbz is plain to see from the moment you first pick the game up and it's certainly a great addition to the hallowed halls of the best Breakout games. Easily recommended for any fan of the genre.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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