"...the best brickbreaker I've played since Shatter..."
Tribute’s first PSN outing is WizOrb, a brickbreaking Minis title with character enough to make it standout. If you’re unfamiliar with what brickbreaking as a genre is, check out these videos. In short, you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen and must repeatedly bounce a ball against blocks until they are all eliminated. WizOrb’s bells and whistles include a throwback 8-bit graphical style, inventive level design that includes enemies and boss battles, the ability to use magic, and an RPG-like main town system.
The Kingdom of Gorudo was recently attacked by evil spirits and it’s up to Cyrus, a renowned magician, to restore it to its former grace. This is done by transforming into a Magic Wand and brickbreaking your way through 5 worlds. One thing you’ll notice from the title screen is WizOrb’s 8-bit graphical style. The game looks like an RPG of old, but it’s still a bit surprising when, after a few levels of brickbreaking, you start walking around the town of Tarot. There are about a dozen citizens in the town, each with a story of how his/her house was wrecked, statue destroyed, farm razed, etc. What’s set up is a town building system. By donating coins you’ve earned in the brickbreaking portions of the game, you aid in the rebuilding of Tarot. Speaking of the brickbreaking…
The bulk of WizOrb is spent breaking bricks. There are 5 worlds to travel through, each with 12 levels. The biggest difference between WizOrb and every other brickbreaking game is the ability to use magic. There are five different magical actions that are performed by pressing either X or Square at different times. The X button shoots a fireball from your wand, which deals damage to enemies or bricks and costs 10% of your magic bar. Pressing X at the moment the orb hits the wand ignites the Magma Orb, consuming 40% of your bar but emitting an orb that chews through everything it touches for a short while. The Square button sends a gust of wind across the screen, redirecting the path of ball left or right depending on the relative location of the wand. The Fairy Orb, which allows you to control the orb’s movement for a short period of time, consumes 30% of your magic and is activated by pressing the square button when the orb hits the wand. If you lose a life (miss the ball), you can use teleport magic and place the ball anywhere on the level. It costs 30% of your magic. When the orb hits the wand eight times without hitting a block or enemy, your magic meter is refilled by 10%. It’s a clever means of replenishing your magic meter when you need it most, at the end of a level when it’s not so easy to get rid of those last few bricks. The levels themselves have interesting things going on.
Many of the levels are designed in shapes of things such as bees, hearts, and other items. They’re littered with different blocks that have different HP. Some blocks take more than one hit to break, some blocks only break when hit from behind, and others won’t break at all. There are switches, too. You have to make all of the switches in an area match colors to destroy switch blocks. You can easily tell which blocks are going to drop items because most of them are shaped differently (boxes, pots). Stocked blocks drop many items including coins, keys, MP replenishing potions, life replenishing hearts, and more. They can also drop curses that drain your magic, cover your wand with glue, or simply destroy your wand. The keys are used to unlock gates that exist in certain levels. With a keen aim, you can direct your orb into doors/gates that lead to in-level shops or bonus stages. Shops are stocked with three random items and powerups (think Zelda) that range from extra lives to magnet wand to multi-orb and more. The inclusion of shops and bonus areas makes WizOrb more than just a brickbreaker. It gives the player something to shoot for besides for blocks, which can get monotonous. There are also enemies that roam around each level, adding moving targets to the mix. At the end of each level you’re awarded extra points for not losing orbs or catching all dropped items. At the end of each world stands a boss who’s just waiting to get walloped by your wizorb.
The boss battles themselves aren’t wildly entertaining, but the fact that they exist at all in a brickbreaking game is interesting enough. The game as a whole doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel like, say, Shatter, but it’s nowhere near as poor of an effort as, say, Ricochet HD. Some of the levels are more annoying than difficult, and even playing to the extent of collecting the four Sacred Children (the little amount of replay value in the game) doesn’t last for too long. Considering the graphical style and the main village layout of the game, I expected and hoped for more RPG elements to pop-up here and there. As is, it’s a great mixture of the two genres, with the focus definitely being on brickbreaking. WizOrb is the best game of its kind on the Minis platform, which may not be saying much. Then again, it’s the best brickbreaker I’ve played since Shatter, which is saying quite a lot.
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:
What I Dislike: