Review: BreakQuest Extra Evolution
The original BreakQuest was one of those minis that didn’t impress me at all, yet offered the most gameplay of any puzzle-based minis title I owned. BreakQuest: Extra Evolution steps up to the plate and knocks the old game clear across town by changing up the visuals, speed, adding music, and locking out the levels.
BreakQuest: Extra Evolution, or BQEE as I’ll call it, strays from the original BreakQuest much more than I had originally thought. The first thing I noticed was the title screen music. Developer Beatshapers emphasized much more of the gameplay on music, with level objects making intricate sounds when hit adding ever so slightly to the BGM. The second thing I noticed was that of the 100 levels in the game, only 10 starter levels are available initially. While this was also a change from the originally, it forced me to play the game with an objective I didn’t have in while playing the first BreakQuest – to unlock all the levels by playing all the levels.
We all know that minis don’t have trophies, but BQEE has achievements. They are accessible from the main menu along with the options, which brings me to my first disappointing find. In the options menu, I realized the most awesome technical feature to never exist in any other brick-breaker games previously, and that is a Sensitivity setting. With this, I was able to calibrate the speed and responsiveness of the shuttle. It came as a complete shock to me that this feature, which effects the way the shuttle handles during gameplay, was not accessible during gameplay.
Another new addition to BQEE is the energy wall that can be deployed after a short amount of time and will prevent the ball from exiting the playfield. A bar will fill up at the bottom left and right of the screen. When they meet in the middle, a bell sound will play. To deploy a wall, just hit the L button for the left wall and R button for the right. The ball can hit the wall two times before it disappears. If the wall is hit just once, it will become red giving a visual warning that it has one hit left. The bars will begin to refill right away allowing you to refresh the wall with a new one.
BreakQuest’s best quality has to be that the ball can be pulled toward the floor whenever you want to change its course. By pressing the square or circle button, the ball will magnetically pull toward the floor. This does not mean it will automatically hit the paddle, you’ll have to adjust for the change in direction this all causes. In BQEE, one tactic I used all the time was when there is a part of the level I want to take out on either side. After the ball hits the right or left wall and is heading toward the top, pull it down a little and it will fly sideways exactly where those remaining objects are.
[gallery_imgs dir="http://media.psnstores.com/images/breakquestEE/" num="7"]
Boss battles are also new to BQEE. After completing nine levels of the same row, a boss battle becomes available. The boss battles are a welcomed change of pace that are cleverly designed with large, screen-filling enemies reminiscent of a few LittleBigPlanet creations. Completing the boss battles unlock achievements, and more importantly they unlock new shuttles that come with unique modifiers. The basic shuttle has two balls, and that should be all that any man needs. Unlocked shuttles have many of the game’s in-game modifiers always on, like the Flamer with its big damage fireball or (my personal favorite) the Defender with the automatically equipped energy wall.
I have been playing BQEE on PS3, Vita, and PSP Go and graphics were noticeably different. The PSP Go’s smaller screen is sharp and brightly colored, but the tiny analog makes it difficult to make fine adjustments during gameplay. The direction pad is there for slower movements, but its tough on any console to switch back and forth between the dpad and analog stick as quickly as needed. The Vita version is bigger and benefits greatly from the better, more loose analog stick. It was the big screen experience and DualShock 3 analog stick of the PS3 version that offered more natural controls, smoothing out some of the tougher levels that the portables made challenging.
The original BreakQuest did not have music. Just the clinky clank of the ball hitting the level objects and breakables. At first I was absolutely thrilled by the music, but a few levels in and I quickly found a few soundtracks that nearly put me right to sleep. But for every sleepy time level, there were ten awesome sounding levels. Nearly everything the ball hits in a level makes a sound. Destructible objects and level obstructions all play a sound when hit, and it all adds to the music of that level.
Power-ups play a pretty huge role in both BreakQuest games. In BQEE, now that the speed of gameplay has been lowered to something more palatable, the power-ups are allowed to be more effective. Actually grabbing the good power-ups, like one that enlarges the shuttle, while avoiding the bad ones, like one that shrinks the shuttle, is now even easier. Power-ups are somewhat of a common feature in modern brick-breaker games, as found in Magic Orbz, and BQEE isn’t much different.
BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is one of the most fullfilling brick breaker games on PS3, Vita, and PSP. In the event that you’ve played the first BreakQuest minis title, BQEE is an improvement in nearly every way. The 2D visuals are more enjoyable to look at, the ball graphic is bigger, the speed has slowed down allowing the game to be enjoyable to play, a soundtrack has been included, and the boss battles are pretty challenging. For what price they are asking, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution offers 10 times the gameplay of the average PlayStation Mobile game.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.
What I Like:
- Lots of levels
- Plenty of variety
- Boss battles
- Unlockables and in-game achievements
- New barrier feature
- Larger ball
- Slower speed
- Sometimes realistic physics
What I Dislike:
- Sometimes unrealistic physics
- Grainy graphics
- BGM put me to sleep
- No access to Options during gameplay