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BreakQuest Extra Evolution Review (PS Vita)

 

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BreakQuest Extra Evolution is yet another game that follows the classic formula set by games like Breakout and Arkanoid, but with its own twist. Is this PlayStation Minis’ game by Beatshapers another one of the generic clones, or an outstanding gem?

In case you’re not familiar with this type of game, I’ll explain how it works briefly. It’s a game in which you control a small spaceship at the bottom of the screen that can only move side to side. You have to use this spaceship to hit a ball upwards and destroy all the blocks on screen. It’s a pretty basic premise, but there have been a lot of copycats that aren’t very good. BreakQuest Extra Evolution takes this formula and adds physics-based items and blocks to the mix, which is both a good and bad thing, unfortunately.

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Games like this are easy to get the hang of and play, but in BreakQuest EE, things aren’t quite clear. For example, there are two shields that can cover the bottom left and right of the screen that can be activated when charged by pressing the left and right bumpers. The ball can also be forced downwards by pressing down on the d-pad, square, or circle but the game never tells you any of this; I found out accidentally. The information is in the instruction manual, but it is irritating to go into it to find things the game could have easily explained. Some of the physics-based item drops are temporary upgrades/downgrades for your shuttle, but do interact with the ball as they fall. That, and the environmental items the ball can also interact with make BreakQuest EE a fresh take on an old idea. However, while the physics-based items may seem like a good idea, the execution isn’t great. I found the ball being stuck inside objects far more often than I would have liked, and the amount of times it hit a block but the game didn’t register it did annoy. If you’re going to create a physics-based game, it’s best to be sure it works properly.

Aside from the problems, it wasn’t an awful game to play, as there are quite a few interesting levels with great ideas. The game is split up into 10 lines, and each line contains 10 levels. To unlock the next level in a line, you have to complete the previous one; the first levels from all the lines are unlocked from the get-go. The 10th level in each line is a boss battle in which – big surprise – the aim is to defeat the boss, but it isn’t as simple as it seems. Some bosses take quite a few tries to take down, which might test the patience of a few gamers, because after a boss is failed, you’ll have to play the previous level again to get another chance to take it down. With the help of the power-ups and the shields, the main levels are pretty easy and won’t take you long to speed through, but finding out how to take on the bosses through trial and error extends the life of the game.

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The visual style of BreakQuest EE is quite eye-catching, with a ton of vibrant colours that make levels look good, but can be confusing at times when the background and foreground are seamless, leaving you unsure of what you’re supposed to hit. The audio is semi-decent at best and can get repetitive quite quickly, while the dull, low-fi sound effects are quite grating. There’s no reason to get your headphones out for this.

BreakQuest Extra Evolution is a game that adds a fresh dimension to the Breakout formula, but all the little problems with it build up to make it a middling title. As a PlayStation Minis exclusive, it’s the type of game you’d play in short bursts. If you can tolerate its flaws, those short bursts could be enjoyable experiences. BreakQuest Extra Evolution is not a bad game, but too much is wrong for it to be a great one.

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