BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is a follow-up to the 2004 title BreakQuest — a clever riff on the Breakout formula, which requires that players clear a given stage of its many elements by way of a bouncing object. It’s a formula that’s been done to death, yet here we are with BreakQuest: Extra Evolution, a title being released as a PSP Mini, and is playable on the PSP, PS3, and Vita.
Like the subtitle suggests, the game seeks to be an evolution of the standard Breakout concept, while hopefully still preserving what makes that type of game so engaging. Did developer Beatshapers succeed in taking these simplistic mechanics to the next level? Read on to find out.
While there’s no denying that BreakQuest: Extra Evolution looks the part as far as its visuals are concerned — the game features a cornucopia of colorful levels (101 in total), all designed to be unique and exciting — its functionality as a Breakout clone lacks the refinement necessary for the game to exceed its forebears. That’s not for a lack of trying though, as the game does introduce some clever new mechanics to break up the monotony.
In addition to keeping the “ball” in the air and breaking a few bricks along the way, BreakQuest takes things a little further with dynamic brick placement, interactive non-breakable objects, and the addition of some helpful power-ups. Dependent on which bricks are eliminated the player can unlock helpful augmentations like a larger “trampoline” and missiles to help make the tougher levels seem less daunting. Extra Evolution also introduces an energy shield at the base of the screen, which deteriorates if the player is unsuccessful in keeping the bouncing item in play or gets hit by oncoming enemies — run out of energy and it’s game over.
Beyond those slight additions, and new boss levels — which require the player eliminate specific portions of an enemy in a strategic manner — the gameplay will be entirely familiar to any gamer, if a bit finicky. Getting control over the “ball” isn’t nearly as easy as it should be, and moving the launcher from side to side (at least on the Vita) is imprecise. There were several instances where moving from side to side resulted in overshooting the desired area, and there were even more times when it was difficult to discern the appropriate angle for eliminating the last few bricks. For the most part the game plays as it should, but not without its fair share of frustrating moments.
On the plus side, the game balances difficulty well but the controls do become an issue during the more challenging levels. In addition, the lack of precise controls will make replayability look like a less worthwhile endeavor (ex. those more challenging levels).
And, to be frank, the amount of entertainment that is offered by such an experience, even at a very basic level, is going to be hard to recommend, especially when the appeal of Breakout games is so fleeting. As an on-the-go distraction BreakQuest: Extra Evolution functions well enough but, for a game with limited focus, it’s a shame Beatshapers couldn’t have gotten everything right.
Nevertheless BreakQuest: Extra Evolution delivers exactly what most fans will expect: a unique, Breakout style game that does a passable job of delivering interesting new levels. At $3.99 the game won’t break the bank, and thus will leave very few gamers feeling like they wasted their money. It’s a delightfully vibrant title to experience, with some new tricks to offer, but it’s not necessarily the evolution some gamers are looking for.
Have you had a chance to check out BreakQuest: Extra Evolution? Have you been waiting for someone to deliver an update to the Breakout formula?
BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is available now on the PlayStation Store. Game Rant played the Vita version for review.