By Eric Pankoke on Sun, 09/27/2009
After a certain number of variations of a particular genre come out, you begin to wonder what else can be done with that style of game. That’s the way I’ve felt about breakout clones for quite some time, especially since I don’t particularly care for the genre in the first place. Then one came out called Bricks Of Camelot that caught my eye because of the slick visuals. Once I found out that it was from Donut Games I had to give it a try. Turns out that I have not been disappointed at all. In fact, for the first time I think I can say that I actually really enjoy a breakout style game. There’s not really anything new in the mechanics of the game, but rather in the power ups and attention to detail in the environment that make this game so much fun.
Just like any other breakout clone, the object of Bricks Of Camelot it to clear each level of all the bricks using a paddle that you move across the bottom of the screen and a ball that bounces around the rest of the screen. There are four level packs to play, each one containing three groups of levels, and each group comprised of eight levels. All told then there are 96 levels, and you can play each group at an easy, medium and hard difficulty, effectively giving you 288 levels to play. I stuck with the easy set so I could get through as much of the game as possible for the purpose of this review, and there was still one group where I was on my last paddle before completing the group. Any time you miss a ball (assuming you only have one in play), or when you accidentally collect one of a couple of different bad power ups, you lose a paddle. Once all you paddles are gone your game is over and you have to start the group were playing from the beginning.
For the most part the bricks in Bricks Of Camelot are pretty standard. There are some that can’t be destroyed at all, and some that take multiple shots to destroy. The two I thought were kind of interesting were the dirt and fire bricks. A dirt brick can be destroyed like any other brick, and they don’t actually need to be removed in order to finish a level. They also don’t cause the ball to ricochet like most bricks do. Fire bricks are a lot nastier. They must be removed, but if they are left unchecked every so often they will reproduce. If fire bricks get too close to the bottom of the screen they can hamper your movement, because touching them will destroy you.
Of course, what would a good breakout game be without power ups. Bricks Of Camelot has plenty of those to spare. Again there are the typical ones, such as one that allows you to shoot, another that makes your paddle sticky, and yet another that makes your paddle longer. You even have your mandatory evil power ups, like one that speeds up the ball and another that kills you on contact. However, there are also some really interesting power ups. These power ups are ones that activated right away, rather than ones that require you to catch them with your paddle. The first is a torch that when hit launches flaming sticks in several directions. If the sticks land on a block they will burn that block, and if the block only requires a single hit the block will be destroyed. Another power up is an eagle that will scour the room digging up extra treasure for you. You still have to catch the treasure as the eagle drops it, though. Finally comes my favorite power up, the mace and chain. Once you’ve been on a level long enough a spiked ball on a chain will start swinging through the playing area from time to time, and any blocks that are in the way of the ball will be destroyed.
To “win” the game you must beat all the groups in all the level packs, though the way the game plays out there really is no coherent connection between any set of levels and another. The only thing that really links them is the idea of a level “pack”, and within a pack you must complete one group to move on to the next. For those that are actually concerned about points as well, they do quite a bit to accommodate you on that front. There are plenty of treasures to collect as they fall from decimated bricks. Everything from bags of coins to special shields that give you lots of points are at your disposal. There’s also a treasure chest that once opened spills many gems and a sword. Finally you have the eagle which, as mentioned previously, drops gems that it “finds” hidden throughout the level. The eagle lasts until it gets killed (in the case of the green eagle) or the level ends. The game even keeps a tab at the bottom of the screen to let you know where you rank amongst the local scores and how many points you need to beat the next highest one.
Graphically the game is on par with other Donut Games offerings, which is to say the visuals look great. The backgrounds are nicely detailed, and the foreground elements look pretty snazzy as well. What really stands out, however, are the little animations strewn throughout the game. Whether it’s something simple like a brick crumbling after being struck, or something cool like several columns of lightening crashing down from above, it’s clear a lot of effort went into the details. I wouldn’t hesitate to say this is probably the best looking game I’ve played so far from Donut Games. The sound effects are quite good as well. Every style of brick has its own noise, and specials like the eagle and the ball and chain sound just right. I was a bit disappointed with the music, however. It only seemed to play after the first time everything speeds up on a given level, and while it was okay, it just wasn’t as enjoyable as the tunes from some of their other offerings.
I can say with total confidence that Bricks Of Camelot is the first mobile breakout style game that I’ve truly enjoyed playing. Between the engaging atmosphere, the interesting power ups, and the fact that I haven’t run into a situation yet where I spent way too many minutes trying to get that one last block, everything just feels right with Bricks Of Camelot. I do wish the music were better, and at the end of the day it is still a breakout clone, but I would highly recommend that those who aren’t really into this style of game give Bricks Of Camelot a try anyway. This just might be the one to change your mind.
Overall Score: 9/10
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