Since debuting in 1980, Breakout has managed to retain it's place in the rank of genuine classics. You've got your paddle, your ball and a wall full of coloured blocks to break through. Harking from a time when Bill Gates still worked from his garage and Elton John had less hair than he does now, this gaming gem has grown and spawned new arms and legs. In the same way that the aeroplane evolved from a man flapping his arms, Block Breaker Deluxe can trace its ancestry back to that first version of Breakout. It's the same game but with bells, whistles and Hundreds and Thousands thrown in for good measure, losing nothing and gaining so much.
With a funky look that's straight out of L.A. at sundown, with neons blazing and cool folk taking to the streets wearing sunglasses, it manages to create a fun atmosphere from the outset. It doesn't really matter that the game essentially involves only a ball and paddle, but it doesn't hurt to make the effort and add subplots and themes. Your challenge is to visit - wait for it - illegal Breakout emporiums and hustle with the best in the business. By getting into the good books of people like the cutesy Angelina Croft, who owns one of these dens of iniquity and is one of the many characters populating this seedy underworld, you can gain points and access to further levels.
There are seven maps to work your way through, each a lot trickier than at first appears. With an end of level boss (yes, you heard) awaiting you at the final hurdle, the challenge is a tough one indeed. While the ball is bouncing around the screen and you're frantically trying to stop it dropping out the bottom with your paddle, there are also special powers and items to pick up. These range from super balls that obliterate every block in their path, to multi-balls, which are good fun but so baffling to the humble human brain that it maybe hinders rather than helps.
As much as they may confuse you at first, these clever additions take the game far beyond its original concept. The levels are well designed and keep you on your toes constantly, especially when the pace picks up and everything steps up a gear or two. The action can sometimes be fairly sedate and at other times frantic, yet remains fun all the way through. The graphics and overall presentation help in this and are colourful, bright and functional, in short, everything they should be and with the bonus of a jazzy neon theme running throughout. The music consists of a funky tune to introduce each new level, which is upbeat and fitting, and the usual beeps are thrown in for the sake of it during gameplay. This is a good-looking game, worthy of some praise.
With so much to get through and some very hard bosses, Block Breaker Deluxe will keep you busy for a long time. There's enough variety to keep you amused and, being that it's based on a game that's stood the test of time anyway, things look equally promising for this evolution.