With the recent launch of the new, digital only, PSPgo Sony introduced PSP Minis, bite sized games that are quick and easy to pick up and play while on the go. BreakQuest is one of the first games from this bold new direction that Sony is taking, one that in many ways brings the PSP in direct competition with the iPhone. In essence, BreakQuest on the PSP is a port of the classic arcade title of the same name, another take on the highly overcrowded genre of ‘bat-the-ball’ games that spawned since BreakOut and Arkanoid. However, unlike most BreakOut-clones, BreakQuest manages to differentiate itself from the majority of those games by providing several exciting and innovative features.
One of the biggest improvements of the game, over others of the same genre, is its superb physics engine, for when you break a brick it doesn’t just simply explode and disappear but reacts in a complex and realistic way. To spice things up, the weight of the bricks and objects differ from level to level, with some even stuck together in an elastic World of Goo style web, allowing for the physics engine to come into full effect, as numerous chaotic collisions are shown simultaneously on screen. Additionally, some levels contain enemies that shoot at the player, while others contain obstacles to hinder progress.
The degree of diversity in the levels is a true blessing for the game, helping to add excitement to what can be a rather repetitive genre. For example, one level challenges players to hit four of the same colours in a row before they disappear, while another tests your skills at beating the game while the bricks are invisible. The game may be a mere 65mb, but with a 100 levels in the Quest Mode alone, this title is far from being, well, mini. Most levels are unique and worth playing, but the occasional repetitive scene dampens the enjoyment of what is mainly a very fun game.
The game has 9 different weapons as well as power-ups that were never seen on the arcade or PC versions of BreakQuest. Each weapon provides extra depth to the levels as well as helping to get rid of that last annoying brick. Moreover, the ‘Gravitator’ is the added ability of the player to increase gravity on the ball to drag it downwards and thus give that added control over the ball that other games do not provide.
The art style of the PSP game changes from level to level, with one providing a detailed scene of a farmyard, while another pays homage to the classic game Space Invaders. This varying style is accentuated by the crisp and sharp graphics that, in turn, are livened by bright and vibrant colours. However, the graphics are limited to a totally 2D plane, which means that explosions and effects are equally limited.
At times the game is devilishly difficult, but with three difficulties (easy, medium and hard) in Quest mode and several other difficulties in the Arcade mode, players can adjust the game to suit their difficulty levels, although to unlock harder difficulty settings in Quest mode you must play through every single one of the 100 levels in the game.
The background music of the game (made by Maniacs of Noise) is rather enjoyable, and satisfyingly retro, but what really makes the sound top-notch is how what happens in the game affects the song, each time the ball hits an object a tone is emitted, sometimes leading to a Lumines esque tune that delights the ear. Unfortunately, each track, of which there are many, is rather short, and loops continuously while a level is played.
Ultimately, whether you will enjoy this game or not depends on whether you enjoy the BreakOut style of ‘bat-the-ball’ titles. BreakQuest doesn’t provide anything that utterly sets it apart from other games in the genre, but with 100 levels, numerous weapons and power-ups, and a fantastic art style, the game manages to improve on a severly stagnated genre to a degree that makes the game definitely worth a look. At a mere £2.49/€2.99 (with a US release soon), the game packs in hours of fun into an incredibly cheap and small package.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
A very overcrowded and repetitive genre