Review: BreakQuest: Extra Evolution

BreakQuestExtraEvolution

In late 2009/early 2010, Beatshapers released the first BreakQuest PlayStation Mini. I played it briefly, but remember the controls being a bit too squirrelly for my tastes, and after a few attempts at trying to play even the first level (out of 100) I regrettably dismissed the title. Beatshapers has followed up its bite-sized brick breaker this fall with an extra evolved sequel, and this time I wasn’t going to make the same mistake of casting it aside. Turns out, being stuck on a 4-hour plane flight with not much else to do provided the ideal circumstance to load up BreakQuest: Extra Evolution on my Vita. I was immediately hooked.

The concept to brick breaking games hasn’t changed much over the decades.  You’re still just moving a paddle left and right across the bottom of the screen to deflect a ball up and break floating brick patterns.  Add in special modifiers that drop down and enhance the paddle so that it is wider, is magnetic or can shoot bullets, and any given board can go from being a boring slog to an experiment in how quickly the area can be cleared.

BreakQuest: Extra Evolution adds some neat twists to the base concept.  Similar to the first title, you are presented with 100 new boards to clear, which are displayed in a ten by ten grid.  The first board in each row is unlocked and as each additional board is completed the next one unlocks.  In addition, at the end of each row, the 10th board then provides a bonus boss level to complete.  Some boards resemble a very traditional brick pattern, while other boards are more abstract and the objects being “broken” are flower petals or simply little pellets that are consumed à la Pac-Man as the ball travels over them. The constant change of audiovisual styles is one of this game’s main draws.

Any fan of brick breaking games will tell you, the worst part of playing any board is trying to get that last brick.  BreakQuest: Extra Evolution offers a wonderful solution to this.  If the level seems to drag on for a set period of time and no additional bricks are destroyed, a random enhancement will drop allowing a GPS missile (or scatter gun) to fire up at the lone brick that has managed to escape destruction.  This is a wonderful helper feature that kept me playing more and more levels as I never felt frustrated by not being able to finish a board.

One other new feature that has been introduced is a shield mechanic.  The moment the first ball is launched from the paddle, a small line is drawn across the bottom of the screen.  Once the line is drawn completely to the middle, the L1 and/or R1 buttons can be pressed to shift the line up a space and then a secondary line begins to draw across the bottom again.  Once the first line has shifted up to the second space, the line acts as a protective shield capable of deflecting two hits before being destroyed. Managing the shields and utilizing the various modifiers that drop, combined with the wonderful, constantly changing levels, makes BreakQuest: Extra Evolution a Mini with a surprising amount of depth and variety, despite its sub-100 MB size.

While Minis don’t offer Trophy support, there are in-game achievements which add to the addictive nature of the game. Achievements are earned by taking down the bosses at the end of each row, as well as by earning various point totals (which are added cumulatively over the course of the game).  Obviously the game doesn’t offer leaderboards either, but one thing I wish that the Vita would allow is at least the option to take screenshots while playing Minis.  At least that way I could take a screenshot and Tweet the pic from my Vita instead of having to brag and not be to back up my claims.

But overall, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is a wonderful game with addictive brick-busting gameplay and a dynamic presentation that changes visual styles and sound themes with each new level unlocked.  With over 100 levels to play, and at a price of less than a large caramel latte, this Mini is a smashing success.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Great audiovisual style changes with each level
+ Improved ball and paddle handling doesn’t feel squirrely
+ In game achievements

Cons:
– I know it’s a Mini, but no online leaderboards is still a drag
– Can’t capture screenshots

Game Info:
Platform: PlayStation Minis (PS3, PSP, Vita)
Publisher: Beatshapers
Developer: Beatshapers
Release Date: 10/16/2012
Genre: Brick Breaker
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.