If someone were to say to you, "Hey, I'm going to redesign the game of Breakout," you might envision one of virtually thousands of clones that have been created of the classic game from the very early years of video games. But that would likely be a "recreation" not a "redesign" per se. It would take a very clever game designer to actually reinvent the game, or to make something wholly different using the same basic form of classic Breakout gameplay.
Yoshio Ishii, of Nekogames, succeeds in this ambitious endeavor with his latest game, Redesigning Breakout. And while the game is still about destroying bricks to clear the board, what's gone is the boredom the game usually suffers from when trying to get that last brick or two. Instead, what we have is more of a twitch game where reflexes rule the landscape of a simulated (and antiquated) vector graphics display.
Each hit of the ball with the paddle sends the ball careening back upward at a much higher velocity than it started with, though subsequent hits don't increase it again. There are just two speeds: super slow and wicked fast. The ball will return to its slower velocity if you let it hit the bottom, which would be considered a "miss" in more classic versions of the game.
The challenge is against the clock. The faster you can eliminate the blocks and move on to the next level, the more points you will score before your time is up. You have just 200 seconds in which to play.
Analysis: While many of you may not get too excited about "yet another Breakout", Ishii's Breakout is like normal Breakout the way a thrashing water moccasin is like a puppy. The gameplay is there, but it's been transformed into an entirely different experience. And from a game design perspective, this is an intriguing example of injecting creativity into an all but worn-out concept.
Downsides to this excursion include the choice of an old-school display. While it may be a nod to the early years of video games, it won't likely make you want to play this one again and again. Sure the levels change shape in the form of the number of level you are on, but that novelty quickly wears thin. Also, there is an inherent quirk to the Flash Player that causes it to pause every now and then, most likely due to what the CPU is doing. During a twitch game such as this is, that pause can break the zen-like feeling of being "in the zone", and the game loses some luster because of it.
Still, it's a remarkable game, and worth a play through even if only for the game design perspective.