It's been close to 40 years since Atari first introduced the world to the joys of paddle and ball video gaming with the arcade classic Pong, the game which inspired the original brick-bashing title Breakout.

To calculate the number of man-hours that have since been spent on the development, production, and playing of Breakout clones is beyond the mathematical abilities of the human species.

One thing we can state with complete confidence, however, is that with games like Block Breaker 3 Unlimited on the market, the number of hours is certain to rise even further.

Breaking in

Over those long years we've seen numerous additions to the basic concept of bat and ball games. Taito's Arkanoid was the first to introduce power-ups, such as multi-ball and laser cannons, as well as adding on-screen enemies and a Boss level.

Soon after, Krakout appeared and flipped the action back to the horizontal, while DX-Ball introduced the ability to catch the ball with the paddle then choose a direction to relaunch it. And so it continued until we had a wide range of Breakout clones, each with its own unique selection of powers, add-ons and special features.

Block Breaker 3 Unlimited doesn't only contain just about every single feature we've ever seen before in the genre, but they've been implemented in such a way that it all comes together as a spectacular whole.

Paddle power

Each of the game's 77 standard levels is split into multiple sections containing angular surrounding walls and irregular-shaped bricks. Getting to a new section usually involves unlocking the exit in the previous one, before zooming through a narrow corridor along accelerator arrows that briefly turn your ball into an unstoppable fiery mass.

Block Breaker 3's sprawling play areas are reminiscent of the arcade pinball games that were so prevalent in the '90s. Such comparisons are further strengthened by the inclusion of ball locks - which temporarily store your ball until you complete a particular section - and multiple paddles that sweep horizontally or vertically on invisible rails.

The levels are spread evenly between seven different zones, each one representing a challenge against the local champion. Complete the first eight levels in each zone and you'll face a unique boss, which must be defeated to unlock the next zone, as well as the two special levels in the current zone.

Brick-a-brac

Making things even more interesting is the inclusion of a shop containing improvements for your power-ups and add-ons, bought using cash gained in the Standard game mode. Other goodies include a high score table with in-depth stats, multi-player over Bluetooth, and a massive eight additional unlockable modes of play.

It's rare to find a game that is this packed with features and which doesn't suffer from dilution of ideas, but Block Breaker 3 pulls it off with aplomb.

Admittedly the screen can sometimes become a bit cluttered, and there are moments where you'll lose a life due to an implausable rebound or by losing track of the ball, but you'll quickly dust yourself off and have another go.

Block Breaker 3 Unlimited is an immense, colourful behemoth of a game. With almost perfectly tuned gameplay, a huge number of extra features, and an addiction factor that will keep you playing for weeks, let alone days, you'd have to be off your block not to buy this.