Destroy those Bricks 

It is time for some play as we take a look at a new entry in the Breakout/Arkanoid genre.

The game genre of Breakout/Arkanoid has been around for a good number of years.  Yet it still captivates both developers and game players.  Despite its long pedigree, developers are still managing to come up with some new innovations and different ways to present this arcade style game and tempt the palette of today's players.  One such example is Ball Attack.


Developed by Archgames, Ball Attack is available as Shareware so that you can play the game before making any decision as to whether to part with your cash or not.  With the free-to-play version of Ball Attack you are limited to a Demo section which consists of ten challenging levels.  However once you register the title, at a cost of $17.75, you will be granted access to a further 186 levels that have been sorted into sections entitled First, Second, ABC, Summer and Pictures.


Rather than go for the flashy graphics and themed environments offered by some titles in the genre, Ball Attack takes a more traditional view by arranging its various targets against a fairly plain background so that the player is not distracted by extraneous and decorative items.  The developers of the game, however, have opted to use mini-bricks which allows them to pack even more content than otherwise would have been possible, into its playing area.  Bricks with different properties are used throughout the numerous levels.  Some of the bricks require a single hit; others need multiple hits before they are destroyed; while a third type conceals power-ups that can affect the game's dynamics.  There are also some bricks whose sole purpose is to release power-ups before becoming dormant for a while and then become re-activated to repeat the process.


Ball Attack has a wide range of power-ups, some of which I have not encountered before.  There are disintegrators; fireballs; laser bombs; rail guns; clones (either normal or defective when one disappears after ten seconds); rotators that turn the screen by either 90 or 180 degrees; and a rather dastardly one that completely repairs a level and resets your score.  I am sure there must be one or two mentioned in this selection that even compulsive Breakout/Arkanoid players might not recognise.


The game also has a feature whereby a thread is visible between a ball and the paddle when there is nothing obstructing the line-of-sight between them.  This feature which can be helpful when lining up the ball can be turned on/off from an options menu.  You can also adjust the volume level; opt to display the frame rate; and select the difficulty level from easy, normal and difficult. Ball Attack does have one feature that other similar games tend to ignore and that is when multiple balls are on screen.  Collisions are recognised and these do affect the trajectory of the balls involved.


After every ten levels completed, the game automatically implements a check point feature so that you can skip those levels next time you tackle that section.  I did encounter one rather annoying feature that concerned the Help file.  Whenever you returned from viewing the Help screen, the game would automatically switch to window rather than the more appropriate full screen mode.  While this is a simple matter to rectify, it is one that should not have been necessary.


Ball Attack is a reasonable example of the Breakout/Arkanoid genre.  Its main appeal will be with those who already enjoy this type of hand/eye coordination and ball control action.  The game should run fine on any Windows 95 or later system.


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